Is a Blood Test for Diagnosing Early Breast Cancer Possible?

logo1267406_mdReported in an online edition of Clinical Chemistry researchers say that in preliminary tests they were able to detect breast cancer cells in serum biomarkers. A mixture of free-floating blood proteins created by the enzyme carboxypeptidase N (CPN) accurately predicted the presence of early-stage breast cancer tissue in mice and a small population of human subjects.

In their animal studies and human biopsies the researchers first determined the presence of breast cancer tissue, characterized each sample’s stage of development. and looked at how much CPN was being expressed. Blood samples were also taken from each individual¬† Six peptides (proteins) created by the enzyme CPN are believed to originate in or near cancerous cells and eventually make their way into the bloodstream. The researchers compared the stages of breast cancer tissue development in previously diagnosed patients to the presence of CPN-created peptides in their blood and found all six peptides were at detectably higher levels as early as breast cancer’s first pathological stage (cancerous cells present and a tumor 2 cm or smaller or no tumor) . They also found that CPN peptides were at a detectably higher level in blood of mice, compared to controls, just 2 weeks after introducing breast cancer cells.

CPN activity dropped significantly over the eight week study of mice suggesting the blood test as currently configured might not work as well in detecting later stages of breast cancer. This will be studied further.They said “Even at the eighth week, CPN activity was still significantly higher than baseline.”.. “However, we suspect the activity of different enzymes goes up and down as the disease progresses. We will be looking at how we might add known and future biomarkers to the blood test to increase its robustness and accuracy.”

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