Breast cancer is among the most frequent types of cancer and the main causes of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. Hence, it is one of the major health problems also in Poland and Norway. Prognosis of this malignancy, in addition to treatment efficacy, greatly depends on the stage of the disease at diagnosis. Therefore, many developed countries (including Poland and Norway) introduced mammography screening programs aimed at middle-aged women. However, due to several shortcomings of the current imaging techniques, supplementary molecular markers that could help early detection of breast cancer are warranted.
Although several risk factors of breast cancer are known, these are only associated with a fraction of the breast cancer cases. Blood metabolomics is a very powerful approach to reveal systemic conditions in the human body, particularly those related to disease development and progression. Therefore, blood metabolome is an emerging source of cancer biomarkers. However, little is known about metabolites that could be associated with cancer-promoting conditions and/or the existence of preclinical cancer, i.e. potential biomarkers feasible for breast cancer risk assessment and early detection.
The SEMPRA project concerns the possibility to estimate the risk of breast cancer based on a novel combination of molecular features with anthropometric and lifestyle-related features. We hypothesize that disease-related features of metabolism could be detected in serum, reflecting cancer-promoting conditions (e.g. chronic inflammation) and/or the existence of early “preclinical/symptomless” stages of the disease. We hypothesize that such features (metabolites) can be detected in the serum of individuals who were diagnosed with breast cancer a few years after blood sample collection, even though they were considered “healthy” at that time. Hence, the general hypothesis driving this project states that the combination of a serum metabolome profile and lifestyle-related risk factors will allow building a joint classification model for stratification of breast cancer risk in a healthy population.
Two complementary analytical metabolomics tools based on mass spectrometry and magnetic resonance spectroscopy will be used, which increases the possibility to detect and identify molecular components associated with breast cancer. Sample and data repository from a large population-based study performed in the Trøndelag region of Norway (HUNT2) will be involved, which provides a unique opportunity to work with a sufficiently large cohort of individuals where relevant medical, anthropometric and lifestyle data, as well as a long-term follow-up, are available. Furthermore, a reference group of women with actual (clinical) cancer (breast cancer and other solid cancers) will be recruited to the study.
Specific aims of the project include:
The SEMPRA project provides a unique possibility to explore the underlying biological mechanisms in early breast cancer development, and possibly identify molecular targets to hinder cancer progression. The project could bring biomarker candidates to complement and enhance breast cancer screening programs helping to reduce “over-diagnosis” and subsequent “over-treatment” related to false-positive diagnoses. Hence, the project could contribute to pre-diagnostic management, early diagnosis, and successful treatment of breast cancer, which are issues with high health and socioeconomic impact in both participating countries.
The Project Contract UMO-2019/34/H/NZ7/00503 has been signed by the Director of The National Science Centre on 7th October, 2020. Expected date of the Project completion is 6th October, 2023.
The project has its Public presentation during the annual conference XXIV Gliwice Scientific Meetings on 20th November 2020. This has been connected with the lecture „Serum metabolomics for risk assessment and treatment monitoring of breast cancer” presented by Dr. Guro Giskeødegård. More information about the event at the conference web page http://gsn.io.gliwice.pl/