Roorkee, 29th September 2022: Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IIT Roorkee) Researchers have identified and validated three proteins found in saliva that can predict metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). They developed a process by which biomarkers for TNBC can be identified in saliva.
The team’s diagnosis method is based on salivary gland function, which is impaired in people with breast cancer. Their protein composition is also altered. Thus, an effective biomarker can be obtained if the difference can be identified and quantified.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in India, with more than 1.6 lakh cases registered and more than eighty thousand deaths yearly due to breast cancer. About 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancers are metastatic TNBC, the most aggressive form that does not respond to the usual hormonal and HER2-protein targeting drugs.
The Research was led by Dr. Kiran Ambatipudi, Associate Professor, Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Roorkee, and included Mr. Kuldeep Giri and Ms. Sudipa Maity, Doctoral Students, IIT Roorkee. The findings were published in the reputed peer-reviewed Journal of Proteomics (DOI - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jprot.2022.104701) in a research paper co-authored by the three researchers
Congratulating the Researchers, Prof. Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee, said, “The research findings could potentially help in early diagnosis and treatment. This will improve the quality of life of such patients”
Elaborating on this research and the need for urgency for developments in the area, Dr. Kiran Ambatipudi, Associate Professor, Dept. of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Roorkee, said, “There have been many efforts in the past decades to identify biomarkers of metastatic TNBC, but there have not been any that have reached practical application.”
Dr. Kiran Ambatipudi added, “Currently, biopsy and radiological evaluations are used to diagnose breast cancers, but these are invasive processes and are usually performed only after symptoms appear, by which time it may be too late for therapy. Delayed detection is the primary reason for the high morbidity rate of breast cancer patients, and this necessitates the development of techniques that are not only non-invasive but also sensitive enough to detect cancers in their early stages.”
The team collected saliva from healthy subjects and those diagnosed with TNBC. The proteins in these saliva samples were isolated and tested for change in abundance by targeted mass spectrometry.
The team discovered differences in the amounts of three salivary proteins - lipocalin-1, SMR– 3B, and plastin-2 –between healthy subjects and cancer patients. Further studies isolated five peptides (the building blocks of proteins) from these three proteins, which were starkly different between aggressive TNBC and healthy subjects. These peptides could point to the presence of TNBC with 80 % sensitivity and 95 % specificity.
“If appropriately validated on larger patient cohorts, the discovered peptide markers could become a powerful handle for breast cancer diagnosis in the future,” added Dr. Kiran Ambatipudi, the lead researcher, on the importance of their finding.
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