Every year, almost 22,000 Canadian women are diagnosed with breast cancer — their treatment usually involves surgery to remove a tumour and then chemotherapy to reduce the risk of cancer returning. But studies show that for most patients with early stage breast cancer, chemotherapy following surgery is totally unnecessary and therefore does more harm than good.
Identifying whether a patient's cancer is at low or high risk of recurring would help doctors reduce unnecessary treatments for low risk patients. This could have a huge impact on a patient's quality of life and also significantly reduce the cost of health care.
Did you know?
Chemotherapy can be devastating both physically and emotionally. Side effects of breast cancer chemotherapy range from nausea, vomiting and hair loss to mouth sores, menopause, infertility, numbness and aching of the joints, hands and feet.Currently, most doctors assess a patient's prognosis using their age and "tumour grade," but this approach doesn't work very well. Now, NRC researchers have developed a tool to determine which breast cancer patients have little risk of their disease recurring. The tool — an algorithm that identifies "gene expression signatures" or biomarkers that can predict low risk tumours with 87-100 percent accuracy in different groups of patients — has the potential to virtually eliminate unnecessary chemotherapy.
The NRC team now hopes to see its algorithm applied in a clinical setting. "We have a provisional patent on the intellectual property and we would like to get a Canadian company to license it and turn it into a kit format," says Dr. Maureen O'Connor of NRC-BRI, who co-authored the study. "We've had interest expressed from more than one company so far."
Dr. O'Connor adds that the NRC algorithm could be adapted to other types of cancer where over-treatment is common, such as prostate cancer. "Prostate cancer in particular is usually not an aggressive disease, but the treatment can be extreme," she says. "We would like to develop a test that can predict with 99 percent accuracy whether a patient's cancer is not aggressive, so they can make the best decision about whether to proceed with treatment right away."
In future, the algorithm may also help pave the way toward personalized therapy for cancer patients. "On average, every cancer patient has 14-16 mutated genes," says Dr. Wang. "Based on their unique genetic signature, we hope to figure out which mutations to target to block the cancer process in each patient."
NRC Media Relations | EurekAlert!
Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University
Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München
On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.
On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
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”...
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...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences
27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research
27.02.2017 | Life Sciences