Houston scientists have created what they hope will become the first blood test for the early detection of breast cancer. A test of the new technology, developed at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, found it can identify the presence of breast cancer cells from biomarkers in blood samples.
In a new report on the test in the journal Clinical Chemistry, the researchers said a mixture of blood proteins created by an enzyme linked to tumor growth accurately predicted the presence of early-stage breast cancer in mice and in a small population of human patients.
"Our results indicate that circulating peptides generated by [the enzyme] can serve as clear signatures of early disease onset and progression," said biomedical engineer Tony Hu, who led the project with colleagues at the New York University Cancer Institute.
The test is not yet available to the public, and may not on the market for several years, said Hu, who hopes clinical trials of the technology can begin in early 2014.
"What we are trying to create is a non-invasive test that profiles what's going on at a tissue site without having to do a biopsy or costly imaging," Hu said. "We think this could be better for patients and — if we are successful — a lot cheaper than the technology that exists. While there's more to the cost of administering a test than materials alone, right now those materials only cost about $10 per test."
Current tests for the early detection of breast cancer are expensive and are not recommend for prevention by the American Cancer Society. The ACS recommends healthy women age 40 and older have a mammogram every year and work with their doctors to assess their individual risks of developing the disease.
Prior to age 40, the society recommends women have a clinical breast exam whenever they visit their doctors.
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