Ibima researchers responsible for the project SUR
Malaga researchers create new system for early detection of breast cancer

Malaga researchers create new system for early detection of breast cancer

This new study is based on increasing the volume of blood samples collected, allowing for "more precise" detection

Iván Gelibter

Friday, 7 June 2024, 14:46

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Investigators from the biomedical research institute of Malaga and nanomedicine platform (Ibima Plataforma BIONAND) have taken another step forward in the early detection of breast cancer, they announced to the media this week.

Their study, published in the scientific journal 'npj Breast Cancer', was led by the director of the Malaga oncology research centre (CIMO), director of the inter-centre clinical oncology unit of the regional university hospitals of Malaga and Virgen de la Victoria and director of the centre for medical and health research (CIMES) of the University of Malaga, Emilio Alba, along with the lead researcher of the experimental liquid biopsy laboratory from the institute 'CIMO 1 - Clinical and Translational Research in Cancer', Iñaki Comino. It highlights the potential of a new "ultra-sensitive" methodology for dual identification of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) and circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the blood of patients with localised breast cancer.

Specifically, as described by the research centre, this new study is based on increasing the volume of blood samples extracted, which allows a "more precise" detection of ctDNA and CTCs. In this way, it is possible to identify the response to treatment and make an early diagnosis of possible relapse in the disease and, therefore, improve the clinical management of these patients. This new methodology may represent, for oncologists, a more effective tool for early intervention, before an obvious clinical relapse occurs.

Comino himself explains that the focus of the research has been on improving the sensitivity and accuracy of ctDNA and CTCs tests. "Ultra-sensitive monitoring of treatment response and early identification of cancer relapses can be crucial to increase survival rates and improve patients' quality of life. With this new methodology, we have been able to identify the persistence of breast cancer even after established treatments to eradicate the disease. This detection will allow for more timely and personalised clinical management of patients," he said.

The study

The study involved patients with early breast cancer, whose blood samples were drawn periodically during their treatments. These samples were analysed using advanced technologies that can detect extremely low levels of ctDNA and CTCs. In this way, the presence of these components and their evolution over time during treatment made it possible to distinguish those patients who responded to treatment, as well as those who eventually relapsed after surgery. Dr Comino said, "This advance is not only an achievement for our team, but also an example of how interdisciplinary collaboration and the use of cutting-edge technology can lead to discoveries that change lives," while he added he felt "very satisfied to contribute a grain of sand in the transformation of the clinical management of breast cancer".

The implementation of this methodology in clinical practice could improve the clinical outlook for patients with localised breast cancer who have not responded to primary treatments and may face future relapse. In addition, one of the advantages of this discovery is that it employs a minimally invasive procedure like blood sampling. In addition, this method has the potential of being adapted to other types of cancer, broadening its impact on modern oncology.

Comino has received a postdoctoral grant with the support of the Carmen Lavigne award through the Spanish association against cancer. In addition, this scientific publication is part of the project 'Prevention and early detection of relapse in breast cancer patients using blood samples' carried out thanks to the support of the Unicaja Foundation, together with two other projects also in oncology research, all of them coordinated by Alba.

"The present and future of oncology lie in the detection of cancer even when it is minimally present, in order to apply personalised and precision medicine that allows us to approach its cure in a more effective way," Comino said.

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