London: Researchers have found that a simple blood test can detect breast cancer up to five years before there are any clinical signs of it. The blood test identifies the body’s immune response to substances produced by tumor cells, according to the research presented at the 2019 NCRI (National Cancer Research Institute) Cancer Conference in Glasgow, UK, on Sunday. “We need to develop and further validate this test,” said Daniyah Alfattani from the University of Nottingham in Britain. “However, these results are encouraging and indicate that it’s possible to detect a signal for early breast cancer. Once we have improved the accuracy of the test, then it opens the possibility of using a simple blood test to improve early detection of the disease,” she said.
Cancer cells produce proteins called antigens that trigger the body to make antibodies against them — auto-antibodies. The researchers have found that these tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) are good indicators of cancer, and now they have developed panels of tumor-associated antigens that are known already to be associated with breast cancer to detect whether or not there are auto-antibodies against them in blood samples taken from patients.
In a pilot study, the researchers took blood samples from 90 breast cancer patients at the time they were diagnosed with breast cancer and matched them with samples taken from 90 patients without breast cancer (the control group). They used screening technology (protein microarray) that allowed them to screen the blood samples rapidly for the presence of auto-antibodies against 40 tumor-associated antigens associated with breast cancer, and also 27 tumor-associated antigens that were not known to be linked with the disease. “The results of our study showed that breast cancer does induce autoantibodies against panels of specific tumor-associated antigens. (IANS)