Clients in the News – Georgia Tech and Emory Univ. Researchers develop predictive model could help guide choices for breast cancer therapies

Georgia Tech/Emory Univ. biomedical engineering Assoc. Prof. Manu Platt (standing) and graduate student Keon-Young Park examine gels that display the activity levels of cathepsins, which are protein-degrading enzymes. In a new study, the researchers are studying levels of cathepsins and other signaling chemicals in an effort to predict the invasiveness of breast cancer in individual patients. Photo: Gary Meek, Georgia Tech

Biomedical engineers have demonstrated a proof-of-principle technique that could give women and their oncologists more personalized information to help them choose options for treating breast cancer.

Thanks to diagnostic tests, clinicians and patients can already know the type of breast cancer they’re up against, but one big question remains: How likely is it that the cancer will invade other parts of the body? Answering that question could help guide the choice of treatment options, from aggressive and difficult therapies to more conservative ones.

By studying chemical signals from specific cells that are involved in helping cancer invade other tissues in each woman’s body, researchers have developed a predictive model that could provide an invasiveness index for each patient.

“We want women to have more information to make a personal decision beyond the averages calculated for an entire population,” said Manu Platt, an associate professor in the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory Univ. “We are using our systems biology tools and predictive medicine approaches to look at potential markers we could use to help us understand the risk each woman has. This would provide information for a more educated discussion of treatment options.”

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