Paul Basilio, MDLinx | October 20, 2017
Researchers at the Center for Translational Cancer Research (CTCR) at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute of Christiana Care Health System have announced a new blood test for the diagnosis of breast cancer. Jennifer Sims-Mourtada, PhD, director of Translational Breast Cancer Research at the CTCR, Newark, DE, developed the test at the CTCR with scientists from Genome Profiling LLC (GenPro).
“This simple blood test, used in combination with mammography, can be a transformative tool in the fight against breast cancer by determining whether cancer is present in the breast and whether the cancer is likely to spread,” Dr. Sims-Mourtada said. “Using this test could minimize overdiagnosis and treatment while potentially providing significant savings in health care-related costs. Studies have shown that mammograms alone are not optimal for diagnosing all types of breast cancer.”
The test identifies an epigenetic biomarker within the DNA of circulating blood cells and is different from other diagnostic tests that traditionally target cancer cells.
“This test is designed to monitor epigenetic DNA changes in the blood cells that could signal an early stage aggressive tumor,” Dr. Sims-Mourtada explained. “We know that immune cells in the blood react differently if they are responding to an infection versus a cancer, an invasive tumor, or when there is no cancer present at all.”
Christiana Care and GenPro, a molecular information company that specializes in novel epigenetic biomarkers using its genome-wide profiling platform, have filed a provisional patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office as the first step in the process toward clinical trials and FDA approval for this new blood screening test.
“Commercializing an epigenetic-based diagnostic test into a simple and cost-effective blood screening test can have huge implications for early intervention strategies in breast cancer,” said GenPro co-founder Adam Marsh, PhD.
Currently, there is no truly effective method for routine monitoring of patients in response to treatment for breast cancer and possible recurrence.
“Using the assay we have developed, in conjunction with routine monitoring, enables us to follow changes in the immune response to detect an increase in tumor cells over time,” Dr. Sims-Mourtada said. “This test can allow for much earlier detection of recurrence or metastatic disease before it is visible with standard imaging and enable much earlier treatment.”