Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Northeastern University's Barnett Institute have announced a $1,266,328 grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to carry out a novel breast cancer research project. The joint award brings together leading researchers from both institutions to discover protein biomarkers that can predict which women with benign diagnoses will go on to develop breast cancer, and which will remain cancer free.
As part of the research study, co-principals Dennis C. Sgroi, MD of MGH and Barry L. Karger, Ph.D. of Northeastern will work with archived tissue samples from MGH patients. The normal breast tissues and the specimens from breast cancer patients will go through detailed comparative protein analyses by Karger's laboratories.
Using bioinformatics tools, the researchers will identify proteins that are differentially abundant in breast cancer epithelium as compared with normal breast epithelium. These breast cancer-associated proteins (BCAPs) will serve as potential biomarkers of breast cancer.
Sgroi's research group will validate the candidate BCAPs in the unique cohort of benign breast cancer patients at MGH. Each BCAP will be evaluated individually as well as in combination with other BCPAs to determine the protein expression signature that predicts for increased risk of breast cancer in this population.
'We anticipate that through this process we will identify a proteomic biomarker signature that is prognostic for increased breast cancer risk for these patients,' said Sgroi, director of Breast Pathology at MGH, and associate professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, and principal investigator of the grant. 'The development of such a biomarker signature will help clinicians better identify the subset of benign breast disease patients who likely benefit from aggressive breast cancer monitoring and therapeutic prevention strategies.
The research teams of MGH and Northeastern's Barnett Institute are excited about the opportunities in the clinical management of breast cancer that are provided by the availability of new technologies.
'Prior to the recent utilisation of advanced bioanalytical technologies, researchers were unable to identify the subset of patients who are likely to develop breast cancer,' said Karger, director of the Barnett Institute and James L. Waters chair at Northeastern, and co-principal investigator of the grant. 'The Barnett Institute's state-of-the-art proteomic mass spectrometric technologies will enable us to identify and validate a proteomic biomarker signature that is prognostic for increased breast cancer risk in benign breast disease patients.'
The grant was awarded through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Focused Areas of Study program and will provide $1.26 million in research funding over three years.