Researchers have identified a blood protein linked to lung cancer which may be used as a basis for a diagnostic blood test to screen high-risk individuals for lung cancer.
The protein targeted in the blood test is Human Aspartyl (Asparaginyl) β-Hydroxylase (HAAH), which Panacea Pharmaceutical researchers say is abnormally expressed on the surface of cancer cells, compared to normal cells, where it resides inside the cell body. HAAH is also found in the serum of individuals with cancer. The protein recognizes cell surface growth factors and modifies them, Semenuk says, pushing the cells into uncontrolled growth. It is likely that increased expression of HAAH is an early step in cancer development, since all stages of lung cancer express roughly the same level of the protein compared to adjacent normal cells.
Since early detection is crucial in the survival of lung cancer patients, such a tool may be very useful particularly as it can detect HAAH in the patient’s blood before lung cancer even becomes symptomatic.