Delaware scientists discover new testing process for breast cancer

Christiana Care Health System has announced that scientists at its Center for Translational Cancer Research within the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute have developed a new blood test for diagnosing breast cancer.

“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 over-diagnosis 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 in blood cells, according to scientists. These markers relate to the immune system and can signal if a body is responding to an early stage tumor.

“Right now there is no truly effective method for routine monitoring of patients to follow in response to treatment for breast cancer and for possible recurrence of cancer,” Dr. Sims-Mourtada said. “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.”

Christiana Care integrated the Center for Translational Cancer Research into the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in 2009. The goal was to encourage partnerships with other research centers and companies, including The Wistar Institute, Nemours/ A.I. du Pont, and GenPro.

GenPro, which specializes in discovering epigenetic biomarker, was instrumental in the creating the new testing process, according to Christiana Care.

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