The disease begins with a testicular tumor, which seems to cause the immune system to attack the brain, affected patients are often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed and the appropriate treatment is delayed
Scientists of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, the Mayo Clinic and the University of California at San Francisco (United States), published in the magazine The New England Journal of Medicine, who identified a highly specific and unique biomarker for the disease using a variation of the programmable phage display technology. Its refined version of this technology simultaneously examines more than 700,000 targets of autoantibodies in all human proteins.
Using this powerful tool, the researchers evaluated the cerebrospinal fluid of a 37-year-old man who had a history of testicular cancer and debilitating neurological symptoms, including vertigo, imbalance, and difficulty speaking. The improved technology identified autoantibodies to the Kelch 11 type protein (KLHL11), which is found in the testes and parts of the brain.
These results were correlated and validated with additional patient samples from the Mayo Clinic. In addition to identifying the cause of this neurological disease, the results point the way to use this protein biomarker as a diagnostic test for men with paraneoplastic encephalitis associated with testicular cancer.
If this form of paraneoplastic encephalitis is suspected, the specialist can work in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic to detect KLHL11. “Early diagnosis is extremely important. If we diagnose patients in time, we can start with immunosuppressive drugs. The sooner we can prevent this damage from happening, the sooner we can stop the progression of the disease and the more chances we can clinically improve the patient's life, “the researchers explain.