NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Department of Defense is putting $2 million into a two-year collaboration between three research institutes that will focus on finding proteomic biomarkers that could be used to detect aggressive breast cancer.
The Department of Energy’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., will conduct proteomics research using mass spectrometers on samples provided by researchers from the Walter Reed-Windber Clinical Breast Care Project, PNNL said today.
The Army’s active duty ranks are around one-fifth women, and the Army also is responsible for healthcare for the wives of their married male soldiers. The Windber Institute, through the Army’s Clinical Breast Care Project, has access to 30,000 breast cancer and blood samples from around 4,000 female patients.
"We're looking for aggressive cancer indicators in pre-menopausal women, and the Army has both the tissue samples and the matching plasma," said Karin Rodland, a cancer biologist at PNNL.
The researchers at PNNL plan to compare the proteins from cancers that remained in the breast to those that spread to lymph nodes in an effort to reveal which proteins metastasizing tumors use to move through the body. The researchers expect that finding these potential biomarkers would help differentiate the proteins that affect younger women.
After some of these proteins are identified as possible biomarkers, the researchers will search blood samples to find which proteins occur there as well as in the tumor tissues. After two years of research, the scientists “expect to have a handful of biomarkers that can then be tested in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer,” PNNL said.