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Researchers Design A Blood Test That Detects The Presence Of Advanced Breast Cancer

Update Date: Apr 15, 2014 09:21 AM EDT

Investigators have devised a blood test that accurately detects the presence of advanced breast cancer cells in patients. The new method holds promise for precisely monitoring response to cancer treatments. 

The newly formulated test has been dubbed cMethDNA assay. In the trial the test was successful  in detecting the presence of cancer 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, in the 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."

For designing the test, researchers scanned the genomes of primary breast cancer patients along with DNA from the blood of metastatic cancer patients. They selected 10 genes specifically altered in breast cancers, including newly identified genetic markers AKR1B1, COL6A2, GPX7, HIST1H3C, HOX B4, RASGRF2, as well as TM6SF1, RASSF1, ARHGEF7, and TMEFF2, which researchers had previously linked to primary breast cancer, read 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 are planning additional studies to further validate the current findings which will be followed by patent of the devised test, said researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 

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