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 'Flamenco dancing' molecule could lead to better-protecting sunscreen
18.10.2019 | University of Warwick

nachricht Synthetic cells make long-distance calls
17.10.2019 | Rice University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

Im Focus: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Energy Flow in the Nano Range

18.10.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

MR-compatible Ultrasound System for the Therapeutic Application of Ultrasound

18.10.2019 | Medical Engineering

Double layer of graphene helps to control spin currents

18.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>