A research breakthrough shows that a simple blood test can reduce, or in some cases replace, the need for interventional surgery when determining the best course of treatment for patients with a specific type of brain tumor.
Researchers at the University of Plymouth’s Center of Excellence for Brain Tumor Research have discovered a biomarker that helps distinguish whether a meningioma – the most common form of primary brain tumor in adults – is grade 1 or grade 2.
Classification is important because low-grade tumors can sometimes remain dormant for long periods, and do not require high-risk surgery or aggressive treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Tumors classified as Grade II can progress to cancer and more aggressive treatment may be needed in order to try to control their spread.
Currently, meningioma patients are usually placed on watch and wait, undergo radiation therapy, or undergo surgery to try to remove the tumor. Between 70 and 85% of cases of meningioma are lower grades, so if a blood test – or liquid biopsy – is done – surgery or radiation therapy may be avoided in these patients.
The team in Plymouth, led by Professor Oliver Hahnemann, has published their work on this new biomarker known as Fibulin-2 (FBLN2) in International Journal of Molecular Sciences. FBLN2 has not previously been shown to play a role in meningioma development, although it has been linked to other types of cancer such as forms in the lung, liver, breast, and pancreas. So the team believes that this is the first study to link the FBLN2 protein as a biomarker for a meningioma.
The results build on the important work of the Plymouth Center to identify non-invasive biomarkers for different degrees of meningioma tumors. More information on a previous paper, “GATA-4, a potential new therapeutic target for high-grade meningioma, regulates miR-497, a potential new biomarker for high-grade meningioma” can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Using tumor samples, cancer cells grown in the laboratory, and liquid biopsies from patients, scientists were able to distinguish between grade I and II tumors. In a smaller sub-study, the researchers showed that biomarker levels can differentiate good (slower-growing) and bad (faster-growing) tumors as defined by genetic makeup.
Professor Hahnemann said: “In this study, we identified FBLN2 as a novel biomarker that can distinguish grade II meningiomas from grade I meningiomas. Higher levels of this biomarker were found in tumor samples from a grade II meningioma compared to the Class I model. Also, higher levels of FBLN2 could be detected in blood samples from grade II meningioma patients, compared to grade 1 meningioma patients. Identifying FBLN2 as a meningioma biomarker has great potential for improving the prognosis, treatment, prognosis, and follow-up of meningiomas.
“This is an exciting achievement that could cause patients to avoid the ordeal of neurosurgery in what is already likely to be one of the toughest times of their lives. In the UK, 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumor each,” said Hugh Adams, a spokesperson for Brain Tumor Research, which funded the study. General, and more children and adults under the age of 40 are lost to brain tumors than any other cancer. “
Victoria Bradley, 50, from Plymouth, was diagnosed with a meningioma in 2017 and underwent surgery at Derriford Hospital six weeks later. It has lifelong side effects including debilitating seizures. Unable to work as a vacation actress abroad, Victoria is now developing an app for mindfulness and meditation to help others with brain tumors and epilepsy.
“The diagnosis and the operation changed everything in my life,” she said. I live in constant fear, I no longer feel comfortable going out on my own and always, I always have an emergency alarm with me to call for help if I have an epileptic seizure.
“It’s very cool and weird to think that one day, patients like me might not have to undergo surgery.”
It is hoped that the results will contribute to the development of more customized treatment options for meningioma patients. In fact, there is currently a lack of consensus regarding the best management of a grade II meningioma. FBLN2 can become a valuable tool for identifying and treating meningiomas, and is accessed through a non-invasive blood test. More research is needed to evaluate the accuracy of diagnosing meningiomas using FBLN2 liquid biopsy compared to current methods.
The Plymouth Center is part of a network of Centers of Excellence for Brain Tumor Research. It is funded by Brain Tumor Research and is the only national charity in the UK that is uniquely focused on finding a cure for brain tumors through campaigns to increase national investment in research to £ 35 million annually, while raising funds to create a sustainable network of brain tumor research centers in the UK.