9 Oct : Now breast cancer patients will have a prospect to remain healthy and normal throughout their lives despite being suffered with such serious disease as a Canadian university has developed a new technology that may help identify people facing the risk of breast cancer, enabling them to take early preventive measures.
The technology, developed by the University of Toronto in collaboration with the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Canadian Cancer Society, could provide a breakthrough for patients in India where one out of every 22 women is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Under the technique, the researchers analyzed tiny samples of blood and breast tissue obtained from the patients at risk using a device which can fit into a human palm.
“We developed methods to move droplets of different kinds of reagents, a substance consumed during a chemical reaction, to extract hormones and purify them all on a device that can fit into the palm of a hand.”
The new method may someday facilitate routine screening of clinical samples for analysis of hormones, said Aaron Wheeler, one of the project investigators.
“This may be useful in many applications, including screening for risk of developing breast cancer, especially in high-risk populations, and monitoring the response to anti-estrogen (hormonal) breast cancer therapies such as aromatase inhibitors,” said Wheeler, Director of Wheeler Microfludics lab in the Department of Chemistry at the University.
Anti-estrogen therapy or hormonal therapy works against hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer and an aromatase inhibitor is the best hormonal therapy to start with after initial treatment (surgery and chemotherapy).
The group used a new technology ‘digital microfluidics’ under which minute droplets of fluid were manipulated electrically on the surface of a microchip.
As these devices can be used to integrate multiple different laboratory functions, the technology is called “lab-on-a-chip” technology.
A detailed report on the new technology would appear in the inaugural issue of Science Translational Medicine.
A person at the risk of breast cancer will show a significant increase in concentration of hormone estrogen and its metabolites in breast tissue compared to healthy one.
Tissues, especially in the lobules (glands that produce milk) and ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) are affected in a person diagnosed with the disease.
The disease can occur in both men and women, but females are more prone to it.
According to an online report by National Cancer Institute, the US government’s principal agency for cancer research, more than 2 million, including 1,910 males have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the country in 2009 of which 40,610 have died of the disease.
According to a study by Indian Council of Medical Research, India accounts for nearly six per cent of breast cancer deaths globally. The cancer is rapidly overtaking the number of cervical cancer cases among Indian women.
There will be approximately 250,000 new cases of breast cancer in India by 2015, the study said.The incidence of breast cancer has steadily increased over the years in the country, and as many as 100,000 new patients are being detected every year, it added.