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Jefferson scientists see breast cancer gene activity from outside the body
Date:11/28/2007

(PHILADELPHIA) Researchers at Jefferson Medical College and Jeffersons Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia have used PET imaging to see hyperactive cancer genes inside breast tumors in laboratory animals, marking the first time such gene activity has been observed from outside the body. This technology might someday help physicians to detect and classify cancer, enabling them to find cancerous breast tumors as early as possible, and determine the appropriate treatment.

Reporting in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, scientists led by Eric Wickstrom, Ph.D., and Mathew Thakur, Ph.D., used a DNA probe a modified nuclear medicine agent to detect the hyperactivity of CCND1, a common breast cancer gene. The gene is copied thousands of times in most breast cancer cells. The high concentration makes CCND1 copies easier to image with the genetic PET probe. The research team found a much higher concentration of the cancer gene activity in estrogen receptor-positive breast tumors in mice than in normal tissue.

Less than one-fourth of lumps found in mammograms are really cancer, notes Dr. Wickstrom, professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. Our new technique will let us see what is really going on in a suspicious lump. We will see if a lump is malignant or something safe.

Patients with benign lumps could avoid invasive procedures if active cancer genes could be identified from outside the body, says Dr. Thakur, professor of Radiology and Radiation Oncology at Jefferson Medical College. Observing the cancer gene activity of a breast tumor will permit physicians to determine the best way to treat it.

The new technique to visualize sites of cancer gene activity, which the investigators call radiohybridization imaging (RHI), might help physicians find out whether lesions found in mammograms are cancerous or non-cancerous without a biopsy. The genetic imaging agents
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Contact: Steve Benowitz
steven.benowitz@jefferson.edu
215-955-5291
Thomas Jefferson University
Source:Eurekalert

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