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Study Shows Potential Efficacy of Blood Test for Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Matthew Gavidia
A blood test showcased potential efficacy for screening and detection of breast cancer, according to an abstract to be presented at the 2019 NCRI Cancer Conference.
A blood test showcased potential efficacy for screening and detection of breast cancer, according to an abstract to be presented at the 2019 NCRI Cancer Conference on November 3.

Researchers from the Center of Excellence for Autoimmunity in Cancer at the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, sought to expand on findings which indicated tumor-associated antigens (TAA) as good indicators of cancer. Cancer cells have been known to produce proteins called antigens that trigger the body to make antibodies against them. These autoantibodies, as they are called, were then used by researchers in the study to determine whether or not they exist against panels of TAAs, which are already known to be associated with breast cancer pathology, in blood samples from patients.

In the pilot study, researchers matched blood samples from 90 breast cancer patients at the time of diagnosis with samples from the control group of 90 patients without breast cancer. These 180 breast cancer matched control samples were then screened for the presence of autoantibodies against 40 TAAs associated with breast cancer and 27 TAAs that were not known to be related to the disease. Researchers used an optimized protein microarray technology for screening, and 3 panels of TAAs were identified against which to test for autoantibodies.

Researchers found that the accuracy of the test improved in the panels that contained more TAAs:
  • The panel of 5 TAAs correctly detected breast cancer in 29% of the samples from the cancer patients and correctly identified 84% of the control samples as being cancer-free
  • The panel of 7 TAAs correctly identified cancer in 35% of cancer samples and no cancer in 79% of control samples.
  • The panel of 9 TAAs correctly identified cancer in 37% of cancer samples and no cancer in 79% of the controls.


The results of heightened breast cancer detection through increased TAA involvement in blood samples reveals the definite potential in utilizing this novel indicator. Research presenter Daniyah Alfattani, PhD, spoke to how the results confirmed hypotheses of autoantibody involvement in breast cancer. “The results of our study showed that breast cancer does induce autoantibodies against panels of specific tumor-associated antigens. We were able to detect cancer with reasonable accuracy by identifying these autoantibodies in the blood” said Alfattani.

Alfattani stressed that the test needs to be developed and further validated, which is currently being done as researchers are now testing samples from 800 patients against a panel of 9 TAAs. They noted that they expect the accuracy of the test to improve with these larger numbers.

“These results are encouraging and indicate that it’s possible to detect a signal for early breast cancer. Once we have improved the accuracy of the test, then it opens the possibility of using a simple blood test to improve early detection of the disease,” said Alfattini.

Reference

Alfattani D, et al. Clinical utility of autoantibodies in early detection of breast cancer. Presented at the 2019 NCRI Cancer Conference on November 3, 2019. Abstract no: poster 2966.

 
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