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Research collaboration seeks blood test for aggressive breast cancer
Date:4/16/2008

Research collaboration seeks blood test for aggressive breast cancer Well-documented breast cancer tissue collection meets high throughput proteomics to find aggressive-tumor markers in blood

Mammography and biopsies help find breast cancer, but even biopsies won't tell the doctor if the cancer will spread. Now, a two-year research project hopes to find proteins in blood that could alert doctors to patients harboring not just breast cancer, but the nastiest versions of the disease.

The project takes advantage of one of the most comprehensive collections of breast cancer clinical samples, located at the Walter Reed-Windber Clinical Breast Care Project in Washington, D.C. and Windber, Penn., and advanced proteomics technology at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. The collaborators are searching for proteins that indicate aggressive breast cancer and that can be detected by a simple blood test. The Department of Defense is providing about $2 million over two years for the study, to be split between the organizations.

"This is an example of expertise in two areas coming together with a plan whose results will be greater than the sum of its parts," says Col. Craig Shriver, M.D., director of the Clinical Breast Care Project.

Although scientists have identified two genes that predispose young women to breast cancer, the vast majority of cases in pre-menopausal women have no obvious genetic link. A blood-borne biomarker would add substantially to the tools available to fight the disease. Many groups are looking for such biomarkers, but access to a 30,000-sample blood and tissue collection, and cutting-edge high-throughput proteomics sets this project apart.

"We're looking for aggressive cancer indicators in pre-menopausal women, and the Army has both the tissue samples and the matching plasma," says cancer biologist Karin Rodland of PNNL, who will work with PNNL's Dick Smith
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Contact: Mary Beckman
mary.beckman@pnl.gov
509-375-1019
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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