Salivary proteins can help diagnose triple-negative breast cancer: IIT Roorkee study

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Vishu
Vishu Verma
Assistant Manager
Updated on Sep 29, 2022 14:01 IST

Researchers identified three proteins found in saliva that can predict metastatic triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). The proteins in saliva samples were isolated and tested for change in abundance by targeted mass spectrometry. 

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee 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. 

10-15% breast cancers are metastatic TNBC  

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in India, with more than 1.6 lakh cases registered and more than 80,000 deaths yearly due to breast cancer. About 10 to 15 per cent of all breast cancers are metastatic TNBC, the most aggressive form that does not respond to the usual hormonal and HER2-protein targeting drugs. 

IIT Roorkee outgoing Director Ajit K Chaturvedi said, “The research findings could potentially help in early diagnosis and treatment. This will improve the quality of life of such patients” 

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 per cent sensitivity and 95 per cent specificity. “If appropriately validated on larger patient cohorts, the discovered peptide markers could become a powerful handle for breast cancer diagnosis in the future,” said Kiran Ambatipudi, the lead researcher. 

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About the Author
Vishu Verma
Assistant Manager

Vishu is a writer, an artist, a cat and an ardent music lover. She loves to read, sketch and explore new places in her leisure time. She has nine years of experience in print media.

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