Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Singling out the real breast cancer among the lumps

26.10.2011
Finding several proteins in blood at same time improves accuracy of cancer detection

Early detection of breast cancer saves thousands of lives each year. But screening for breast cancer also produces false alarms, which can cause undue stress and costly medical bills. Now, a recent study using patient blood reveals a possible way to reduce the number of false alarms that arise during early screening. Researchers found a panel of proteins shed by breast cancer that are easily detected and can distinguish between real cancer and benign lumps.

This study used diagnostic tools that are already in use in clinics. If the results can be replicated with more volunteers and over a longer period of time, the transition from research lab to clinical lab would be straightforward.

"We were surprised to see we could distinguish between accurate and false results produced by cancer screens such as mammograms," said Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory biologist Richard Zangar, who led the study published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. "We really want to expand the work to verify our findings."

Finding breast cancer is the first step to treating it, but mammograms have a high rate of false alarms. Many women go through unneeded, invasive follow-up tests. To improve the process, some researchers are working on a simple clinical blood test that would detect proteins shed by cancerous tissues.

Called biomarkers, these proteins aren't doing much better than mammograms when it comes to false positives in experimental studies. But researchers have been approaching biomarkers as if every type of breast cancer is the same. In reality, breast cancer exists as several subtypes, with each subtype having distinct characteristics.

For example, breast cancers that produce proteins called estrogen receptors are a different subtype from ones that don't and respond to different therapies. Zangar and colleagues wondered if looking for biomarkers specific for different subtypes would improve the odds of getting the diagnosis right.

To explore this idea, Zangar and his colleagues at PNNL and Duke University picked 23 candidate biomarkers and measured them using tests similar to the ones found in clinics. The team compared proteins in blood from four groups of women — about 20 women in each of the four subtypes of breast cancer — to women with benign lumps that had previously been identified as false positives. Then, Zangar's team homed in on a handful of biomarkers for each subtype that could best distinguish between the most true positives and the least false positives.

The biomarker panel for each subtype was significantly better at distinguishing between breast cancer and benign lumps than mammograms or single biomarkers. The statistical test the team used rates performance from 0.5 to 1.0 — with 0.5 indicating the biomarker panel predicts cancer randomly and 1.0 means it's perfect. Mammograms and the best single biomarkers rank around 0.8. But for two of the most common breast cancer subtypes, the biomarker panels ranked above 0.95 and reached 0.99 depending on which proteins were included in the panel.

"Perhaps researchers haven't found good biomarkers because they've been treating the different subtypes as a single disease, but they actually represent unique diseases that are associated with different biomarkers," said Zangar. "We're hopeful these results can be repeated because these assays would markedly improve our ability to detect breast cancer early on, when treatment is more effective, less costly and less harsh."

In addition, the study hints about the underlying biology of breast cancer. Four of the biomarkers are proteins involved in normal breast development that turn on and off at different times during growth. The fact that these proteins show up in different ways, depending on the subtype of breast cancer, might provide clues about what goes wrong when breast tissue turns cancerous.

The team is seeking additional funding to repeat the study in larger groups of women and to follow volunteers for several years.

Reference: Rachel M Gonzalez, Don S. Daly, Ruimin Tan, Jeffrey R Marks, and Richard C Zangar, Plasma Biomarker Profiles Differ Depending on Breast Cancer Subtype but RANTES Is Consistently Increased, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, July 2011, DOI 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-1248 (http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2011/05/16/1055-9965.EPI-10-1248.short).

This work was supported by the Early Detection Research Network of the National Cancer Institute.

Mary Beckman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pnnl.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>