Washington: American scientists have
developed a new and simple blood test which they claim could
help identify lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare lung
disease, without a surgical biopsy.
LAM is a rare lung disease that only affects women in
childbearing age, causing shortness of breath and lung
collapse. The fatal disease occurs when an unusual type of
cell invades the lungs and causes tissue destruction by
creating holes or cysts in the lung.
Now researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and
Cincinnati Children`s Hospital Medical Center said by testing
a specific serum, a component of blood, medics can
successfully identify the disease.
According to Lisa Young, lead author of the study, the
findings will not only help diagnosing LAM but also be helpful
in screening for LAM in women with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
(TSC) -- a genetic disorder that causes tumours to form in
many different organs. TSC is a risk factor for the
development of LAM.
For their study, the researchers analysed the amount of a
specific protein -- vascular endothelial growth factor-D, or
VEGF-D -- in in 195 women patients` blood. VEGF-D promotes the
growth of lymphatic vessels and blood vessels and can be
involved in the spread of cancer.
They found that serum VEGF-D levels were significantly
greater in women with LAM than in women with other lung
diseases or healthy individuals.
When they prospectively evaluated the VEGF-D test
performance in women prior to knowing their diagnosis, the
test showed high accuracy for diagnosis of LAM, the university
said in a release.
"We concluded that a serum VEGF-D level of greater than
800 pg/mL (picograms, or one-trillionth of a gram, per
millilitre) in women with typical cystic changes on a
high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scan is
diagnostically specific for sporadic LAM and identifies LAM in
women with TSC," Young said.
"However, negative VEGF-D results do not exclude the
diagnosis of LAM."