McGill University Logo Are we close to developing a blood test for detection of breast cancer? Well, a team from the McGill University has created a new microfluidics-based microarray that will apparently change the way breast cancer is diagnosed.

A protein called Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) is considered to be biomarker for this disease. However, there have been many limitations pertaining to its identification in the blood. This is because even healthy people carry the same protein and the levels depend on lifestyle or other factors.

“Attempts have been made to overcome this problem of person-to-person variability by seeking to establish a molecular ‘portrait’ of a person by measuring both the concentration of multiple proteins in the blood and identifying the signature molecules that, taken together, constitute a characteristic ‘fingerprint’ of cancer. However, no reliable set of biomarkers has been found, and no such test is available today. Our goal is to find a way around this,” commented Dr. David Juncker, the team’s principal investigator.

Also, getting a precise count of all the biomarkers in the bloodstream has been a major challenge for professionals. In this analysis, the investigators developed a microfluidics-based microarray technology which presumably surpassed these difficulties. With this technique, a number of protein biomarkers can be measured with low propensity to errors or false outcomes.

To test the working of this technology, nearly 17 individuals suffering from a specific breast cancer and 11 controls were examined. About 32 proteins were gauged in their bloodstreams, out of which 6 were used to generate a fingerprint of breast cancer. This helped the scientists classify the patients as breast cancer-positive or negative.

Before stepping into clinical diagnosis procedures, this process needs to be trialed in a larger set of individuals, the team added. The findings are published in the journal, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.