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A blood test for breast cancer?

August 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A simple blood test may be the newest tool for early breast cancer detection. It could also test for other diseases, all by looking at the protein in your blood. A group of doctors say they've cracked a code that could save lives. They've created a test that can detect breast cancer even when a mammogram doesn't. It's called the BC Serapro.

"This is a test for measuring the concentration of proteins in the blood and how they differ from the normal state will tell us about the presence of disease," said Power3 Medical Products director of proteomics, Dr. Ira Goldknopf.

Dr. Goldknopf has been studying proteomics for more than 30-years. Proteomics is similar to genetic testing, but while genetic testing screens for disease causing genes, proteomics looks for certain protein markers in a person's blood.

"The method analyzes specific proteins and these proteins tell us what is going on with the patient in terms of the disease and how the disease is playing out on the patient," said Dr. Goldknopf.

Unlike mammograms, which give false positives 10-percent of the time and false negatives about 20-percent of the time. Dr. Essam Sheta, a researcher at Power3 Medical Products, Inc., says the BC Serapro will be able to give a definite answer.

"You could say it can catch it before because we see some elements of that where the test says positive, but a mammogram gives a negative," said Dr. Sheta.

Early studies show the BC Serapro has a 90-percent success rate. It's just one of two tests being launched by Power3 Medical. A protein-based test for Parkinson's and Alzheimers comes out later this year. Power3 Medicals CEO, says it's just the beginning.

"Any disease that has a need we will be able to find a blood test for that," said Steve Rash, Power3 Medicals CEO.

Tests that could save lives and change the course of deadly disease in the future.

Doctors say this test is ideal for women who are considered at high risk for breast cancer. The test should be available in breast cancer clinics early next year. The cost will range from $350 to $500.

Web Extra Information: BLOOD TEST FOR BREAST CANCER

WHAT ARE BLOOD MARKERS? A blood marker is any component in the blood that's associated with a condition, disease or symptom. Doctors look for something in the blood that they know affects, or is affected by, something else.

Blood markers can indicate whether a system is healthy and functioning properly or if there's something wrong. In recent years, several studies have shown that higher amounts of proteins in the blood may be associated with various diseases. Identifying such biological markers as early as possible, before the onset of symptoms, could lead to earlier and better diagnoses and earlier treatment.

For instance, if elevated concentrations of certain neural growth "markers" are present at birth, it may be an indication that autism or mental retardation will develop later in childhood. Or, as with the BC Serapro test, the blood may contain indicators of breast cancer.

ABOUT BREAST CANCER: Breast cancer is a type of cancer in which cells in the breast become abnormal and grow and divide uncontrollably, eventually forming a mass called a tumor. Some tumors are benign, meaning they do not invade other types of tissue.

Although, if they become big enough, they can interfere with some bodily functions, such as the flow of blood or urine. Malignant tumors have cells that can invade nearby tissues. When a cancer "metastasizes," cells from the original tumor break off and travel to other parts of the body via the blood or lymph systems. More than 75 percent of breast cancers begin in the milk ducts within the breast. The next most common site is in the glandular tissue that makes the milk.

 

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