Biomarker Discovery

Aurora Health Care, in collaboration with academic institutions such as University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is actively studying biomarkers as a way to predict the behavior of breast tissue, either atypical cells or specific breast tumors. By studying biomarkers – specific chemicals, proteins or molecules that exist in blood, tissue, or on the cell itself – researchers hope to better understand who will develop disease or progress to metastasis.

Current research is focused on identifying biomarkers that predict future cancer risk, as much as 10 years before a tumor forms, after a diagnosis of atypical ductal or lobular hyperplasia. Additionally, studies are underway that will unlock the biomarker signature that predicts which patients diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ will develop tumor recurrence after standard treatment of partial mastectomy followed by radiation.

By identifying those patients whose breast cancer recurred after breast conserving therapy, and tying the knowledge to specific biomarkers identified on her original breast cancer cells, a test can be developed to select which patients would be better treated by total mastectomy (with reconstruction if she chooses), and which patients could safely be treated by lumpectomy and radiation without the worry that the cancer will return.

With patients’ consent, Aurora collects unused blood and tissue samples removed from the patient during surgery in the Open-Source Robotic Biorepository and Informatics Technology. Samples can then be sent, along with de-identified clinical information, to academic partners like UCSF for detection and analysis of the biomarkers.

To learn more about the Aurora and UCSF study and Aurora’s other efforts to develop cancer biomarkers, contact us.