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The risk of cancer can be detected at an early stage in HIV patients' blood samples

In a new study, researchers from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital have discovered that lymphoma can already be traced in blood samples from HIV patients before the cancer develops. The discovery makes it possible to identify the HIV patients who are at risk at an early stage, and thus improve their chances of being cured of cancer.

A sample of blood taken at the time of the HIV diagnosis can provide answers to whether the patient will develop lymphoma.

"Our results show that the pattern of proteins in the blood at the time of the HIV diagnosis is markedly different for those patients who later develop cancer than it is in the case of HIV patients who do not develop cancer," says Bent Honoré, who is professor at the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University and laboratory manager.The results of the study have been published in the journal AIDS. 

Early detection of cancer

The researchers have analysed blood samples from 21 patients with HIV, which were taken up to several years before the patient developed cancer. Seven had developed lymphoma, seven had benign enlarged lymph nodes, and seven had not developed anything.

"In principle, you could specifically measure these proteins in the blood sample of HIV patients in order to identify the patients with a high risk of developing cancer, and follow them more closely. In other words, there is a possibility of individualised treatment for these patients and thus of improving their chances of being cured of cancer," says Bent Honoré.

He emphasises that this is a study with just a few patients, so the results must be confirmed using a larger sample.

"The next step is to get the results substantiated by analysing a larger number of HIV patients. The results have been obtained using very resource-intensive methods, which can analyse a number of proteins at a time. So we need to therefore develop analyses that are better suited to daily analysis of blood samples," says Bent Honoré.

In addition to Bent Honoré, the research group comprises Maja Ludvigsen, Francesco d' Amore and Maja Ølholm Vase from The Department of Clinical Medicine and Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Haematology.


About the study


Further information

Professor Bent Honoré
Aarhus University, Department of Biomedicine
Tel.: (+45) 8716 7814
Mobile: (+45) 2338 2288