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MiRNAs can be used as a biomarker to predict disease recurrence and mortality in breast cancer patients

Researchers at the University of Galway have found that biomarkers known as microRNAs can help predict which breast cancer patients are likely to have a recurrence of the disease and death.

The researchers, led by Dr Matthew Davey, Professor Michael Kerin and Dr Nicola Miller, from the University’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, conducted a multicentre study in Ireland involving 124 patients treated with chemotherapy .

The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS).

They contain:

  • MiRNAs can be used as a biomarker to predict which patients are likely to experience breast cancer recurrence and mortality.
  • Researchers conducting a multicenter study in Ireland took blood samples from 124 breast cancer patients at 5 different times during their cancer journey, and assessed their results nearly nine years later.
  • Researchers say their discovery of miR-145’s predictive value could help doctors better tailor treatment to the needs of each patient being treated for breast cancer.

According to figures from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland, more than 3,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. While long-term outcomes have improved for patients with breast cancer, the most common cancer diagnosed in women, 20% to 30% of these patients will experience a recurrence of breast cancer.

Dr. Davey said: “The process of identifying which patients are more likely to have recurrence has been challenging. So we sought to determine whether miRNAs – small, non-coding molecules that modulate genetic expression and influence cancer development – are able to to predict which patients have a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and death.

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“We found that patients with an increased expression of a certain type of miRNA called miR-145 are unlikely to have a recurrence of breast cancer.

“We showed that increased expression of this biomarker, which was measured in patients’ blood samples during chemotherapy, predicted their long-term oncological outcome. We can predict those who are likely to relapse and also those who will be free of recurrence Further studies on the clinical application of this biomarker are underway.

“This study may also help identify breast cancer patients who could benefit from closer monitoring and additional therapies after surgery or treatment.”

This research is made possible by the National Breast Cancer Research Institute and Cancer Trials Ireland.

Source:

Magazine reference:

Davey, M.G., et al. (2022) Evaluating the role of circulating microRNAs in predicting long-term survival outcomes in breast cancer: a prospective, multicenter clinical trial. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. doi.org/10.1097/XCS.0000000000000465.

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