In an abstract presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 17th Annual World Conference on Lung Cancer in Austria, researchers discussed efforts to demonstrate that fibroblast growth factor 18 (FGF18) is overexpressed in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) tissues and cell models, and described their evaluation of FGF18 as a circulating biomarker in patients with MPM.1

MPM has a poor prognosis despite ongoing efforts to find new promising treatment options. The discovery of novel biomarkers could guide personalized therapy decision-making.

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Researchers collected plasma from 107 patients with MPM at the time of diagnosis or prior to surgical resection. Samples from 49 healthy volunteers and 8 patients with non-malignant pleural diseases were also collected as controls. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to measure circulating FGF18, and results were correlated to clinical, pathological and radiologic parameters.

The results showed significantly elevated plasma FGF18 levels in patients compared to healthy controls. Circulating FGF18 was also slightly elevated in patients with pleuritis or fibrosis compared to controls, and sarcomatoid morphology was associated with high FGF18 levels when it was compared to epitheloid histology.

Patients with MPM who presented with FGF18 levels below the median had significantly longer overall survival compared to patients with high FGF18 levels and median survival of 625 days vs 382 days, respectively.

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Based on these results, the researchers concluded that FGF18 is a “promising” candidate biomarker for MPM. They also claimed that FGF18 could support histological classification of MPM and help identify patients with poor prognosis.


  1. Dong Y, Zhang H, Schelch K, et al. Circulating fibroblast growth factor 18 is elevated in malignant pleural mesothelioma patients – a multi-institutional study. Paper presented at: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer; December 2016; Vienna, Austria