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New Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approaches to Eradicating Recurrent Breast Cancer

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Technical Report,01 Sep 2014,31 Aug 2015

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Brigham and Womens Hospital Boston United States

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Some breast cancer patients have no evidence of metastatic disease when they are first diagnosed, yet many patients later return to the clinic with cancer that has spread throughout the body. It is thought less than 1 of the cells that disseminate are able to form overt tumors. The reasons why certain disseminated tumor cells remain inconsequential and others form life threatening tumors after long periods of time are unknown. Support from the Era of Hope Scholar Award enabled us to use a sensitive new technology to tag individual tumor cells, each with its own unique label, and trace the individual cells in ourbreast cancer metastasis models. Our new detection methods enabled us for the first time to isolate and study the consequential cells those that formed tumors and likewise, determine which tumor cells did not form a tumor. By distinguishing consequential from inconsequential breast cancer cells, we hope to provide a foundation for future work to determine whether the disseminated tumor cells isolated from breast cancer patients have similar features. Success in these endeavors would mean that breast cancer patients harboring potentially life-threatening disseminated tumor cells could be identified and treated before they experience disease relapse.


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