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Analytical Chemistry

Blood Test Flags Breast Cancer Recurrence

ACS Meeting News: Mass-spec-based assay is more sensitive and detects recurrence earlier than current test

by Celia Henry Arnaud
April 2, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 14

A sensitive mass-spectrometry-based blood test catches recurring breast cancer a year earlier than current clinical tests. The current clinical blood test measures a marker protein called CA 27.29, which is an endothelial cell surface protein that often isn’t detectable until after the recurring cancer has been diagnosed by other means. The new test, developed by M. Daniel Raftery of Purdue University, detects a panel of nine small-molecule metabolites—including lactate, glutamine, choline, amino acids, and organic acids—and combines them with the CA 27.29 level to assess recurrence. Raftery’s team measured the metabolites in retrospective samples from about 100 breast cancer survivors. For each patient, they had five or six samples and the corresponding CA 27.29 values over six or seven years. The new blood test correctly identified patients whose cancer recurred, and it did so about a year earlier than clinical diagnosis and two years earlier than CA 27.29 alone, Raftery reported. The blood test, which is being developed by West Lafayette, Ind.-based start-up Matrix-Bio, will soon undergo additional validation, Raftery said.

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