A new study by McGill University researchers in Molecular and Cellular Proteomics describes the new method they've developed to detect breast cancer biomarkers in a small amount of blood. The new microarray is based on microfluidics technology. The researchers "began by analyzing the most commonly used existing technologies that measure multiple proteins in the blood and developing a model describing their vulnerabilities and limitations," McGill says in a press release. "Specifically, they discovered why the number of protein targets that can be measured simultaneously has been limited and why the accuracy and reproducibility of these tests have been so challenging to improve." With this knowledge, the university adds, the researchers were able to find a way around these restrictions, the new microarray can now measure as many protein biomarkers as needed.
To test it, they measured 32 proteins in the blood of 11 healthy controls and 17 patients with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. They discovered that six of these proteins could be used to establish whether or not a person has breast cancer. The test needs to be repeated with a greater number of patients, the researchers say, but they hope it will lead to a simple cancer detection test that can be done in the doctor's office with only a drop of blood.