Discovering Biomarkers for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer in Women with Suspicious Mammograms

  • Neha Shetty
  • Lance Liotta


Breast cancer (BCa) is the second most common cancer that is diagnosed in the United States and it is estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop BCa. However, if BCa is detected early, a 5-year survival rate can approach 90%. The mammogram is the most-used diagnostic method for detecting BCa, but is ineffective because of its low sensitivity and high false-positive rate, which can lead to doctors prescribing harmful medical treatments like biopsy and chemotherapy. A potential alternative to the mammogram is a blood-based biomarker test that utilizes nanoparticles, which capture low abundance proteins that are far more likely to be associated with breast cancer, to detect BCa. After collecting low abundance proteins using nanoparticle technology from patients with and without BCa, and running those 5000 proteins through bioinformatic analysis, 10 were chosen with the highest correlation values in the statistical test. The variety present in this panel of proteins confirms that breast cancer is a complex disease that may be interpolated from proteins that play widely different roles in the body. Furthermore, the results demonstrate that through the use of a biomarker test using nanoparticles, low-abundance proteins that are extremely likely to be associated with BCa were detected. This biomarker test will be a starting point for more accurate blood tests for BCa that not only reduce the case of false negatives and positives but are noninvasive and reduce patient anxiety.

Abstracts from the 2019 Aspiring Scientists' Summer Internship Program