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Breast cancer biomarkers uncovered

Breast cancer sufferers should benefit from the first major piece of research by the University of Essex’s Proteomics Unit.

Led by Director Dr Metodi Metodiev, the unit has uncovered a panel of protein biomarkers which could lead to improved diagnosis of tumour types and fine-tuned treatment.

‘When we set up the Proteomics Unit here we immediately turned our attention to human issues and the treatment of disease,’ said Dr Metodiev.

Each year more than 42,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer, 99 per cent of whom are women. Research has highlighted several risk factors associated with the disease, but better markers are needed for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. The new technology of proteomics, which is the large-scale study of proteins which are vital components of living organisms as well as tumours, promises to deliver breakthroughs into cancer biomarkers.

‘With proteomics, analysis that took a month to perform can now be done in a second. This gives us a lot more information and is bringing about a very significant change to the way we approach cancer,’ said Dr Metodiev.

Working with Dr Louise Alldridge from Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, clinicians from Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, and the Breast Unit at Chelmsford and Essex Hospital, the scientists have examined thousands of proteins in tumour and normal human tissue. They have determined a panel of prospective biomarkers and are now narrowing it down to see what patterns emerge, before a large scale clinical trial can be attempted.

Kate Clayton | alfa
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