Researchers from Lleida discover a new, more precise way to diagnose pleural effusions

This discovery opens a new door to future research

The pleural effusion develops by the accumulation of liquid between the walls of the lungs and the thoracic layers of the body. Most people with cancer develop this condition. The discovery of high precision biomarkers of malignancy in the case of pleural effusions remains difficult.

A study by the head of the Internal Medicine department of the Arnau de Vilanova University Hospital (HUAV) and researcher of the Biomarker Research Group in Cancer (GReBiC) of the Biomedical Research Institute of Lleida, José Manuel Porcel, has discovered a new way to quantify more precisely a biomarker, called EpCAM (epithelial cell adhesion molecule), which helps diagnose pleural effusions. Until now, these biomarkers were evaluated by a more subjective technique. Now, thanks to this research, the quantification of the concentration of the marker has been carried out using an Elisa technique (Enzyme-Linked-ImmunoSorbent Assay), which provides more reliability to the results. The study has been published in the journal Respirology.

In a first phase, the study was carried out with samples in the laboratory and a comparative investigation between three potential tumor markers. The best resulting biomarker, EpCAM, was subsequently validated, in a second phase, in two independent populations of 73 and 48 patients with pleural effusions.

"Adenocarcinomas are the most common histological subtypes that metastasize to the pleura and are sometimes difficult to diagnose; therefore, biomarkers are needed to support clinical decisions along with cytohistological confirmation”, said Porcel.

This discovery opens a new door to future research and the future applicability of this marker in clinical practice.

This research has been carried out with the financing of a help from Menarini and the collaboration of the Biobank of IRBLleida and the Biobank Platform (PT17/0015/0027).

Reference article:

Porcel, JM, Esquerda, A, Bielsa, S, et al. Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) from pleural fluid cell lysates is a highly accurate diagnostic biomarker of adenocarcinomatous effusions. Respirology. 2019; 1- 6.

Explanatory video of the article:

Text: Communication and Press IRBLleida

José Manuel Porcel