Bilkent Researchers’ Diagnostic Kit Aims to Help Treat Aggressive Breast Cancer

02 February 2016 Comments Off on Bilkent Researchers’ Diagnostic Kit Aims to Help Treat Aggressive Breast Cancer

Dr. Özgür Şahin and Dr.  Ali Güre of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics are working to develop a new gene-based diagnostic kit that predicts treatment response of the most aggressive breast cancers.

With its high incidence and mortality rates, breast cancer is one of the most important health problems in countries throughout the world, including Turkey. Worldwide, 1.7 million people were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, and 521,000 people died of the disease.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive subtype of breast cancer and highly metastatic compared to other subtypes. Currently, chemotherapy is the only treatment option for TNBC; however, most patients develop primary or acquired resistance.

The ultimate aim of Dr. Şahin and Dr. Güre’s project is to develop a gene-based prototype theranostic kit (PTK) that classifies subgroups of TNBC patients according to chemotherapy response, thus helping clinicians to determine the most suitable chemotherapy options for these subgroups.

The kit is based on the analysis of no more than 15 genes from fresh-frozen or paraffin-embedded TNBC tumor tissue using fluorescent-labeled beads. The results of such analysis will make it possible to determine which patient groups will respond to which chemotherapeutic drug(s).

This large-scale project is being supported by the SANTEZ program, which is funded by the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology. In this context, it is intended to enhance university-industry collaboration and the training of young scientists. The prototype diagnostic kit will be produced by partner company Onkogen, using new technology. Members of the Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine are also part of the research team.