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

, lead investigator on the proteomics half of the project.

The cancer indicators they are seeking are proteins that arise from genes that have run amuck in cancer. Comparing proteins that work in cancer cells to those in normal cells might reveal how the cells maintain and disperse the cancer throughout the body.

"The genes are the generals giving orders. And those proteins are the foot soldiers who take those orders and accomplish the goal based on the local conditions they find," says Shriver. "Until we know what's going on at the protein level, we don't know how the orders are being applied in the cells."

In addition to finding a tool to fight cancer, Shriver says, the project will likely suggest details of the inner workings of breast cancer cells.

"Hunting for biomarkers is a difficult process," adds geneticist Richard Mural, chief scientific officer at Windber. "But this project will generate unique and new data."

The military might seem an odd place to turn to study what largely afflicts women, but a fifth of the Army's active duty contingent are women, and many of the rest are married to women. In concert with Windber, the Army opened the Clinical Breast Care Project in 2001 to focus solely on breast health to assure the well-being of the force. Since then, they have collected more than 30,000 breast cancer and blood samples from about 4000 female patients.

The clinical sample collection is one key to the project's success, the researchers say. The samples follow the course of the disease, which is one of the best ways to track the growth and spread of cancer, says Mural. Blood samples have been collected before and after surgical treatment, and workers gather the clinical and family histories from the women. Pathologists examine the cancer tissue and the samples are handled and stored under strict protocols, Mural says.

The team will compare the proteins of cancers that stayed in the breast to
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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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