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

cancers that spread to lymph nodes, which the scientists hope will reveal proteins that metastasizing tumors use to make their way through the body. The team will also compare diseased tissues from pre- and post-menopausal women. This will ferret out proteins from cancers that hit young women, which are generally more life-threatening than disease that shows up in the years after menopause.

To avoid complications from healthy tissue, Mural's team at Windber will use lasers to carefully snip the cancerous cells from the surrounding breast tissue, and then send the cancer cells to Smith and Rodland for proteomics analysis at the DOE's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory on the PNNL campus. Cutting away the healthy tissue will result in very small samples, but EMSL is set up to study samples that are up to a thousand times smaller than other labs, says Smith.

"PNNL's tissue proteomics is at the cutting edge of the technology," says Mural. "What they can do isn't happening elsewhere."

Rodland says the task is daunting because the biomarkers are at very low concentrations and are hidden in the noise of thousands of proteins. Smith adds that PNNL's methods and instruments can identify many more proteins and allow samples from more patients to be analyzed than other labs.

After identifying proteins that might qualify as biomarkers, the researchers will scour the blood samples to determine whether the proteins are there as well as in the tissue, and ensure that the proteins only show up in the blood samples of women who had aggressive cancer. At the end of two years, the researchers expect to have a handful of biomarkers that can then be tested in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.


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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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