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Early Detection of Breast Cancer Using Molecular Beacons

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Final rept. 1 Sep 2003-31 Dec 2007

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The objective of this research project was to develop a novel fluorescence cell imaging method for the early detection of breast cancer. We proposed to use molecular beacon technology to detect the level of expression of several biomarker genes that are highly expressed in breast cancer cells but not in normal breast epithelial cells. As the result of this DOD Idea Award, we have developed molecular beacons that detect the level of expression of survivin, cyclin D1, HIF-1 and Her-2Neu genes in breast cancer cells. This method can also be used to examine the level of gene expression in real time within living breast cancer cells such that changes in the expression of specific biomarker genes can be monitored. To increase the specificity and sensitivity of cancer cell detection, we further developed a multifluorescent cell imaging approach that detects the expression of biomarker genes and proteins simultaneously at the single cell level using combination of molecular beacon and fluorescence quantum dots conjugated to antibodies against these biomarkers. Our results show that the fluorescence cell imaging methods and tumor cell targeted nanoparticle imaging probes we have developed have potential to be used for the detection of breast cancer cells in clinical samples obtained from breast cancer patients and for in vivo non-invasive imaging of breast cancers using optical and MR imaging approaches.

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  • Biochemistry
  • Medicine and Medical Research

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