Mission for Researchers: Diagnosing Breast Cancer From Single Drop of Blood ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonian researchers are developing a way of screening for breast cancer that they hope might one day supplement or even replace mammograms.

The protocol is designed to be 99 percent accurate, in contrast to mammography's significant rate of false positives and radiation exposure.

In the diagnostic method - patented, now in clinical trials, but still many years away from the market - a drop of blood is used to examine the genetic makeup of certain antibodies. The various antibodies present in a drop of blood number outnumber the body's own genes by several orders of magnitude, Delfi reported, so advances in computer processing power have been essential in opening up this avenue of genetic research. 

The method is being developed by Protobios in cooperation with the North Estonia Medical Center, which collected blood samples from over 600 patients, 300 of them breast cancer patients.

The team has pinpointed a clear set of markers that signal cancer, but they cannot yet arrive at a definitive answer in the case of all patients. "But we're well on the way to an ideal early sample," said molecular biologist Kaia Palm, director of Protobios. "And the parameters are clear - 99 percent sensitivity and accuracy. The cancer is recognized and false positives are ruled out,”