Researchers diminish false positive risk in breast cancer biomarker panel

Thanks to a protein biomarker panel, researchers have found a promising way to determine whether breast lumps are benign or malignant. While the panel still carries the threat of false positives, as do mammograms, the scientists hope to hone the procedures by focusing on difference breast cancer subtypes.

The researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Duke University developed biomarker blood panels for four different breast cancer subtypes in a study. They used a statistical score between 0.5 and 1.0 (with 1.0 meaning the test provided perfect results) to measure the panels' efficacy. As R&D Magazine points out, mammograms score a 0.8 on the test, but the best panels scored a respectable 0.95 and 0.99.

"Perhaps researchers haven't found good biomarkers because they've been treating the different subtypes as a single disease, but they actually represent unique diseases that are associated with different biomarkers," said Richard Zangar, who led the study, to R&D Magazine. "We're hopeful these results can be repeated because these assays would markedly improve our ability to detect breast cancer early on, when treatment is more effective, less costly, and less harsh."

- here's the R&D Magazine write-up

ALSO: Researchers at the Huntsman Cancer Institute have hit a milestone in their quest to find biomarkers and develop personalized medicine for breast cancer. The scientists were able to grow breast cancer cell fragments from 42 patients into tumors in mice, and found that the tumors that grew in mice were from the most aggressive breast cancer cases. More