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Detecting breast cancer's fingerprint in a droplet of blood
Date:4/5/2012

ey discovered why the number of protein targets that can be measured simultaneously has been limited and why the accuracy and reproducibility of these tests have been so challenging to improve. Armed with a better understanding of these limitations, the team then developed a novel microfluidics-based microarray technology that circumvents these restrictions. Using this new approach, it then became possible to measure as many protein biomarkers as desired while minimizing the possibility of obtaining false results.

Juncker's biomedical engineering group, together with oncology and bioinformatics teams from McGill's Goodman Cancer Research Centre, then measured the profile of 32 proteins in the blood of 11 healthy controls and 17 individuals who had a particular subtype of breast cancer (estrogen receptor-positive). The researchers found that a subset of six of these 32 proteins could be used to establish a fingerprint for this cancer and classify each of the patients and healthy controls as having or not having breast cancer.

"While this study needs to be repeated with additional markers and a greater diversity of patients and cancer subsets before such a test can be applied to clinical diagnosis, these results nonetheless underscore the exciting potential of this new technology," said Juncker.

Looking ahead, Juncker and his collaborators have set as their goal the development of a simple test that can be carried out in a physician's office using a droplet of blood, thereby reducing dependence on mammography and minimizing attendant exposure to X-rays, discomfort and cost. His lab is currently developing a hand-held version of the test and is working on improving its sensitivity so as to be able to accurately detect breast cancer and ultimately, many other diseases, at the earliest possible stage.


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Contact: Chris Chipello
christopher.chipello@mcgill.ca
514-398-4201
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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