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New Biomarker May Predict Which Breast Precancers Will Progress

Researchers focus on Vav2 protein (October 28)

Measuring the presence and amount of the protein Vav2 may help identify breast precancers that will progress to invasive cancers, according to results presented at the 12th Annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held Oct. 27–30 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Because the biology of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a precancer of the breast, is not fully understood, managing the disease remains a clinical challenge. While some DCIS lesions progress to invasive breast cancer, some do not, and there is a need for new markers and tools to differentiate progressive from nonprogressive DCIS.

Senior investigator Marina Guvakova, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania measured the amount of three candidate biomarker proteins — Vav2, IGF-IR, and Rap1 — in breast-tissue samples. They found that DCIS with higher amounts of the Vav2 protein were more than twice as likely to progress to invasive cancers as DCIS with low amounts of this protein.

The researchers then determined that the predictive ability of Vav2 to distinguish progressive from nonprogressive DCIS was 0.71. A value of 1 means the marker has a perfect discriminating power, and a value of 0.5 means that the marker’s discriminating power is no better than chance, Guvakova explained.

“Our finding is a tip of an iceberg. We aim to expand our research by obtaining and analyzing more samples of preinvasive breast lesions in order to further characterize these amazingly diverse tumors,” Guvakova said.

Source: AACR; October 28, 2013.

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