Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical School, and MIT developed a test that can predict how breast cancer will spread through the tissue. The work relies on monitoring three types of cells that seem to be excellent markers for the spread of tumor.
From Albert Einstein College of Medicine:
Recently, Condeelis [John S. Condeelis, professor and co-chair of anatomy and structural biology at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine] found that breast cancer spreads only when a specific trio of cells are present together in the same microanatomic site: an endothelial cell (a type of cell that lines the blood vessels), a perivascular macrophage (a type of immune cell found near blood vessels), and a tumor cell that produces the protein Mena.
In the new Clinical Cancer Research study, the researchers defined a site with these three cell types as a tumor microenvironment of metastasis, or TMEM. Weill Cornell pathologists, aided by Einstein and MIT scientists, developed a tissue test to detect the presence and density of TMEMs. The test consists of a triple immunostain containing antibodies to the three cell types. A high number of TMEMs in a tissue sample means that the tumor is likely to metastasize or has already done so.
The immunostain was tested on breast tissue biopsy samples taken from 30 patients with advanced metastatic breast cancer and 30 patients with localized breast cancer, all of whom had been followed for at least five years. The resulting immunostains were evaluated by two pathologists who were not aware of the patients’ clinical outcomes.
Their analysis confirmed that TMEM density was significantly higher in patients who had developed metastatic breast cancer than in those who had localized disease. For every 10-unit increase in TMEM density, the risk for metastatic disease doubled. The density of any of three TMEM components alone was not sufficient to predict clinical outcome.
Here is MIT biology professor Frank Gertler discussing the findings:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine statement: New Test May Predict Spread Of Breast Cancer; MIT statement: New test can predict spread of breast cancer…