Breast cancer: biomarkers for early diagnosis identified for the first time thanks to breast milk

New research has identified a number of protein biomarkers found in breast milk that can identify who is at risk for breast cancer simply through a blood test.

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According to a new study, a simple blood test for women of all ages may someday be possible thanks to a new set of protein biomarkers, which the researchers identified using breast milk. (Read also: In breast milk, breast cells are still alive and can help in breast cancer research)

Danielle Whitham, PhD student at Clarkson University in New York said:

Although mammograms are a useful tool for detecting breast cancer early, they are generally not recommended for low-risk women under 40. Since the biomarkers we found in breast milk are also detectable in blood serum, screening could potentially be performed in women of any age using blood or breast milk.

The new biomarkers identified are for a specific type of cancer, called invasive ductal cancer (IDC), one of the most common types of breast cancer. However, the researchers say their approach could be used to identify biomarkers for other types of breast cancer as well.

If our future studies are successful, it could change the way women are monitored for breast cancer and help in early detection. This could also lead to a higher survival rate.

Why was the breast milk? Because it contains protein, epithelial cells e cells immune, all of which provide a wealth of information about what is happening in a woman's body during a crucial period for breast development.

For the study, breast milk samples were obtained from three women diagnosed with breast cancer and three women without cancer.

Using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry, the researchers compared the relative levels of certain proteins between the two groups to identify differences in women with cancer.

The analysis revealed 23 proteins that were dysregulated. Previously, all the proteins that showed differences had been shown to play a role in cancer or tumor development.

Now that the researchers have identified a set of biomarkers, they plan to confirm it with a larger group of patients. Then, they will test the applicability of protein biomarkers in blood serum.

If these tests are successful, a blood test could be developed for use on women of any age to monitor protein changes for early detection of breast cancer.

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Photos: Experimental Biology

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