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Ultra-sensitive techniques for early detection of breast cancer

October 19, 2017

"While great progress has been made in early breast cancer detection and treatment, current methods cannot always determine if a tumor has metastasized or accurately characterize its cellular diversity. Nor do we understand how to distinguish those early breast cancers that are potentially lethal from breast cancers that are unlikely to recur or spread after initial treatment," said Buchsbaum.

The research team will use Walt's single-molecule techniques to uncover new biomarkers in the blood that they hope will have the specificity needed to accurately screen for breast cancer and to diagnose and predict the outcome of breast cancer. They will also characterize breast cancer biopsy samples with single-cell resolution to discover the nature of these complex cell populations so that more precise therapies can be devised.

"Our hope is to detect cancer-relevant biomarkers that would enable breast cancer screening to convert from mammography to a simple blood test," said Walt. "Identification of such biomarkers would represent a major clinical advance."

"By developing more sensitive and biologically precise tools for detecting breast cancer, patients can be diagnosed earlier in the disease process and the tumors better characterized. We hope this research will translate to more targeted therapeutic approaches, with higher efficacy and fewer side effects," said Sonenshein.

Source: Tufts University