Early detection of breast cancer is important for successful treatment and long-term survival, but current screening methods such as mammography are not well-suited for young women.
To address this gap, researchers at Clarkson University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are investigating biochemical signatures of breast cancer that are detectable in breastmilk.
Clarkson chemistry Ph.D. candidate Roshanak Aslebagh of Tehran, Iran, presented this research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting this spring in Chicago, Ill.
Comparing breastmilk samples from women with breast cancer, women without breast cancer and women who were later diagnosed with breast cancer, the team identified alterations in protein expression in breastmilk when a woman has -- or will soon develop -- breast cancer, which might be due to cancer risk or development. After further validation, the method could offer a new, noninvasive approach to breast cancer screening for women in their childbearing years.
Aslebagh researches breast cancer biomarkers with the goal of being able to diagnose and treat the disease earlier and improve the prognosis. Working in Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie's Biochemistry and Proteomics Lab, she uses mass spectrometry and proteomics to analyze human breastmilk and identify potential protein biomarkers for cancer.