October doesn’t just signify the start of Spring; it is also Breast Cancer Awareness month, a campaign that encourages us to focus on the disease and its global impact – the world’s most common cancer for women, 1 in 8 women will suffer from it during their lifetime. In light of this, we have presented the innovations coming out of Israel working towards diagnosing and treating breast cancer.
Making prescriptions more effective
3TP (Three Time Point), a procedure that received FDA clearance back in 2003, is now used around the world to diagnose breast cancer. Developed by Professor Hadassa Degani and her research team at the Weizmann Institute of Science Biological Regulation Department, the imaging technique spares patients the risk and pain of biopsies. It uses MRI scanners and contrast agents (dye) that are injected into the patient. Three MRI images are analysed (hence the name 3TP) before and after the injection and colours applied to the picture, which is indicate whether the growth is malignant or benign. Through 3TP is a much more accurate method, mammography is still the ‘go to’ method for doctors as it is much less expensive and a tool that they often have more experience with. Though it works well in most cases, it is often less effective in detecting tumors in young women due to their higher breast density. 3TP is particularly helpful in allowing doctors to see how a patient is responding to treatment, which in many cases does not work the first time. It helps them monitor changes at very early stages, critical in the treatment of breast cancer.
No dye, no thanks
Professor Degani more recently has also developed a new completely noninvasive method of diagnosis based called Diffusion-Tension Imaging (DTI). Based on diffusion measurements, this method allows patients to undergo an MRI without having to undergo the injection of dye into their bodies. Though the injection is relatively painless and safe for most people, it is not recommended for those with kidney problems (it stays in the body and is not excreted quickly enough) or pregnant women. It is also not sensitive to hormonal changes in the body unlike other diagnostic tools, and so will not be impacted by hormonal changes for pre-menopausal women or hormonal replacement therapy undergone by older women.
A blood test for cancer
Earlier this year saw the latest Israeli innovation around breast cancer come out of Israel: a breast cancer blood test. Developed by Eventus Diagnostics, the Octava Pink test measures “cancer-specific antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the growth of tumors” (Times of Israel 2014). It offers a fast diagnosis of breast cancer and has the ability to identify false negative and flase positive mammogram results.
The chip-based test would act as a next step screening for women with dense breast tissue who receive normal mammogram results. Dr Marvin Rosenberg, president of Eventus Diagnostics, asserts than more than 30% of breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue are missed by mammography.
This post was based on the following articles and audio: