Certain subsets of the population are especially sensitive to carcinogens, and this can be determined using molecular biological methods. In the literature there has been evidence presented for the use of p21ras (ras) as a tumor marker for human carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and vinyl chloride in the workplace. In this study we have examined whether serum ras could serve as a biomarker for the early detection of occupationally derived lung cancer, with an emphasis on Schneeberger (radon-induced) lung cancer.
Sera were taken from 65 male tumor patients. Fifty-nine patients suffered from primary lung cancer (including 18 patients with Schneeberger lung cancer and 12 patients with asbestos-related lung cancer). Additionally, 29 patients with non-malignant lung disease, and a healthy control group (44) including 32 former uranium miners of SDAG Wismut exposed to ionizing radiation (radon and its decay products) were examined. Ras protein was determined via three different methods: 1) immunoprecipitation followed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Western blotting; 2) SDS-PAGE using 5–17% gradient gels followed by Western blotting; 3) pre-incubation with Blue Sepharose, SDS-PAGE on 5–17% gradient gels, and Western blotting.
The results show that 1 ng ras protein was measurable in serum standards. This protein could not be detected in patient sera or in sera from any of the study groups. Thus, ras cannot be considered useful as a marker for the early detection of asbestos-induced or Schneeberger lung
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