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Innovator Award to Berkeley Lab's Joe Gray for improved breast cancer screening
Date:10/1/2007

based on film images taken with x-rays, which can detect tiny calcium concentrations in the breast associated with areas of high tissue density. But microcalcifications may not signal the lesions most likely to become invasive and lethal.

Other imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) promise increased sensitivity for detection of early disease and for lesions whose increased metabolic activity is characteristic of cancer precursors. However, both MRI and PET require further development to target metastasis-prone lesions.

A second need is the ability to accurately map the full extent of a precancerous lesion or tumor once it has been identified, so the surgeon can be confident of removing all cancerous cells. Although some metastasis-prone lesions can be identified by their shapes or protein characteristics, no distinguishing physical characteristics have been found for other lethal types. What's required is improved imaging of the tissue in which the lesion or tumor occurs, based on its peculiar pattern of gene expression.

"Our goals in this project are to improve both these processes anatomical imaging that can identify the precursors of the most lethal breast cancer subtypes, and sensitive histopathologic detection to precisely map the potentially lethal lesions at the cellular level," says Gray. "We plan to develop MRI, PET, mass spectrometry imaging, and other techniques that can detect specific gene-expression signatures the tell-tale protein products of these subtypes on the basis of individual cells."

Someday, the screening process that Gray and his colleagues envision will identify individuals at high risk for breast cancer using high-throughput analytical methods such as blood tests and measurements of breast volumetric density. Individuals identified in this way will then be assessed using new imaging technologies, which will pinpoint any lethal prec
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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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