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Blood Test may Determine Return of Breast Cancer

First Posted: Apr 15, 2014 04:35 PM EDT

A recent study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center has accurately detected the presence of advanced breast cancer cells in some patients, via a blood test.

This new test dubbed cMethDNA assay was successful in detecting the presence of DNA in the blood of patients with metastatic breast cancers up to 95 percent of the time.

"Currently, there is no useful laboratory test to monitor patients with early stage breast cancer who are doing well, but could have an asymptomatic recurrence," said Saraswati Sukumar, Ph.D., who is the Barbara B. Rubenstein Professor of Oncology and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, via a press release. "The goal is to develop a test that could be administered routinely to alert the physician and patient as soon as possible of a return of the original cancer in a distant spot. With the development of cMethDNA, we've taken a first big step toward achieving this goal."

In a clinical study published last year that examined the samples of more than 500 women, the test correctly identified the presence of abnormal breast cancer with 95 percent sensitivity and 50 percent specificity. With added antigens to the study, researchers said they hope to continue to increase the level of accuracy, according to medcitynews.com

They scanned the genomes of primary breast cancer patients along with DNA samples from the blood of metastatic cancer patients for the test. The 10 following genes were specifically altered in breast cancers: AKR1B1, COL6A2, GPX7, HIST1H3C, HOX B4, RASGRF2, as well as TM6SF1, RASSF1, ARHGEF7, and TMEFF2, which researchers had previously linked to primary breast cancer, according to the release. 

"Our assay shows great potential for development as a clinical laboratory test for monitoring therapy and disease progression and recurrence," Sukumar added in the press release. 

Researchers hope that further studies will confirm the validity of the findings. More information regarding the study can be found here.

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