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A New Blood Test Uses Antibodies to Detect Breast Cancer Early

Cancerous cells have DNA mutations that produce antigens (tumor-associated antigens). When the immune system recognizes the foreign proteins, it makes autoantibodies that work against them. These autoantibodies can detect the presence of breast cancer in the blood. Scientists have come up with a simple blood test that can be used to measure antibodies against antigens in order to identify the presence of breast cancer in patients before symptoms manifest.

During the study:

  • Researchers developed panels of tumor-associated antigens linked to breast cancer in order to detect the presence or absence of autoantibodies in blood samples. The screening for tumor-associated antigens found out 39% of the patients had breast cancer and correctly pointed 79% samples without the disease.
  • They screened the blood samples using the protein microarray technology. It was observed that breast cancer could induce antibodies against particular tumor-associated antigens. The scientists were able to detect cancer when they identified autoantibodies in the blood.
  • The research team took different panels of tumor-associated antigens for testing. An improvement in the test accuracy was seen in panels that had more tumor-associated antigens. More tests containing larger numbers of tumor-associated antigens are underway to further improve the accuracy of the test. The researchers are also investigating to find out if the antibodies in the blood samples can be measured to help detect breast cancer accurately.

The results of the study are quite encouraging for breast cancer patients. If the disease can be detected early, the possibilities of cure will be many, and the patient survival rates will also increase. A similar study is being carried out to test for early-stage lung, colorectal, liver, and pancreatic cancers.

The test is not only cost-effective but also a non-invasive way to identify cancer early. In four to five years’ time, breast cancer patients will benefit from the expertise of this research group by having their disease diagnosed and treated early before it progresses to other body organs.

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