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BCRF Launches National Effort to Advance Liquid Biopsies

By BCRF | August 7, 2017

The blood test that could revolutionize breast cancer detection and care

At BCRF we are proud to play a part in projects that lead to breakthroughs in breast cancer. With over 250 investigators that the Foundation supports, there are constantly new developments in all fields of research. One area showing exciting progress is the advancement of liquid biopsies. These blood tests have the potential to change the way breast cancer is diagnosed and followed throughout treatment and recovery.

BCRF currently supports six researchers whose work has fueled the development of liquid biopsy technology and who continue to improve and validate it in clinical settings.  Many other BCRF investigators now utilize the technology for biomarker discovery. Collectively these efforts are revolutionizing breast cancer diagnostics, surveillance and care. Here we break down the science behind the blood test and show how you can join us in this pioneering initiative against breast cancer.

It’s about the DNA

The basis of this blood test, also known as a liquid biopsy, is DNA. Every human cell has DNA which provides a set of instructions to the cell on how to function. In cancer, the DNA instructions get changed, or “mutated.” This causes the cell to act differently. It may start dividing too much, forming a tumor, or spreading to another part of the body, called a metastasis.

Recognizing the specific DNA changes that create cancers can tell a doctor about how to diagnose and best treat the disease. To do so requires obtaining a DNA sample of the tumor. This process has not been easy. Usually a needle or surgical biopsy is performed – procedures which can be difficult, painful and time consuming.

A game changer

Thanks to BCRF-funded research, we now know some tumor cells and their DNA find their way into the blood. For the first time, using these innovative blood tests, we have the ability to look at the unique characteristics of a cancer cell, without performing an invasive procedure.

The blood tests would make diagnosing breast cancer dramatically easier for patients and actually gives doctors more complete information. Obtaining DNA by a blood test can be done quickly, speeding up the gathering of crucial information, so doctors can start treating patients sooner and more precisely.

These blood-draws can be done more frequently which gives doctors the opportunity to follow how a cancer is changing and how the patient is responding to treatment in real time. DNA blood tests might also help us diagnose cancers—of all types—earlier, and even aid in cancer prevention.

We need your help

Analyzing DNA from the blood is technically challenging. There may be only one cancer cell mixed in with billions of normal blood cells. We do not yet know the best way to analyze the blood.  

With your support, BCRF is undertaking a national effort to create a fast, efficient, and accurate way to analyze blood and get results to patients and doctors quickly. This revolutionary blood test will accelerate our progress toward defeating breast cancer.

This is urgent. We need to develop the best methods to get the most information to reliably advise patients. BCRF is uniquely poised to solve this critical need. With our leading investigators committed to collaboration, we can make this a reality.

Join us. Donate now to support all of the critical research BCRF funds.