Breast cancer could be detected up to five years before there are any clinical signs of it, using a blood test that identifies the body's immune response to substances produced by tumor cells, according to new research presented on November 3 at the 2019 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference (November 3-5)(https://www.ncri.org.uk/events/2019-ncri-cancer-conference/) in Glasgow. The work was presented in poster #2966, entitled “Clinical Utility of Autoantibodies in Early Detection of Breast Cancer.” Cancer cells produce proteins called antigens that trigger the body to make antibodies against them - autoantibodies. Researchers at the University of Nottingham (UK) have found that these tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) are good indicators of cancer, and now the scientists have developed panels of TAAs that are known already to be associated with breast cancer to detect whether or not there are autoantibodies against them in blood samples taken from patients. In a pilot study, the researchers, who are part of the Centre of Excellence for Autoimmunity in Cancer (CEAC) group at the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, took blood samples from 90 breast cancer patients at the time they were diagnosed with breast cancer and matched them with samples taken from 90 patients without breast cancer (the control group). The researchers used screening technology (protein microarray) that allowed them to screen the blood samples rapidly for the presence of autoantibodies against 40 TAAs associated with breast cancer, and also 27 TAAs that were not known to be linked with the disease.
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