Carbohydrate biomarker improves screening for breast cancer patients
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IMAGE: Network investigator Karla Williams, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC), is using a sugar found on aggressive cancer cells surface that acts as a biomarker to… view more 

Credit: Bernie Poitras, Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet)

People diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer have a five-year survival rate of more than 93 per cent.

However, one problem that has eluded health professionals is identifying high-risk cancer patients amongst those already diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

GlycoNet network investigator Karla Williams is using carbohydrates (sugars) to shed more light on this issue. Williams, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC), is using a sugar found on aggressive cancer cells surface that acts as a biomarker to detect high-risk cancer in patients.

“Right now, with early-stage breast cancer, diagnostics can’t really tell us who needs aggressive treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation and who doesn’t need it,” says Williams, who received GlycoNet translational grant funding for this two-year project. “Our research has identified a specific sugar that is only present on aggressive cancer cells.”

Williams goal is to develop a blood test to use alongside current diagnostics to detect whether these cancer cells are aggressive

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Article originally posted at
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