NEW YORK, April 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- It is well known that once a tumor metastasizes into the blood stream, the odds of combatting the cancer decline sharply. Early removal of tumors therefore, is an essential way to improve survival. In pivotal research conducted at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, surgeon Dr. Jess Ting, breast oncologist, Dr. Kerin Adelson and molecular biologist, Dr. Doris Germain, are looking at how metastasis is not necessarily intrinsic to the tumor but to its micro-environment. The shift in focus is critical Dr. Ting explains because it will be an effective way to identify and stratify those at high risk of metastasis after surgery.
Dr. Ting's research also received an essential financial boost from Jeffrey Epstein, the science philanthropist and financier, who established the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University in 2003.
To obtain a breast tumor's micro-environment, Dr. Ting and his team are using the unique approach of studying fluid emitted from a post-surgery wound site. To date, clinical analysis of a cancer's environment has been the blood, a rich source of disease-related biomarkers. However, blood's complex composition, amongst other factors, is a major challenge for biomarker assays. Other body fluids, including urine, cerebrospina, bronchoalveolar lavage, synovial, amniotic, seminal plasma and interstitial fluids are also rich in disease biomarkers. However, these fluids are only informative in advanced metastatic cancer patients and so their prognostic value in term of disease progression is limited.
Dr. Ting's team saw that wound fluid (emitted from a draining tube), contains all the proteins, growth factors and cytokines that are secreted by the cells around the cancer and is an ideal way of studying the microenvironment in vivo. Furthermore, wound fluid from a breast cancer patient often has the tremendous advantage of having an exact control specimen since the non-cancerous breast is often removed as a precaution and wound fluid from that breast can be compared.
Over the last year, Dr. Ting and his team have found distinct differences between cancerous wound fluid and non-cancerous both in test tubes and in mice. It is these differences that will be critical biomarkers in determining risk of future metastasis.
"Identifying post-surgery patients at high risk of metastasis is vital," Jeffrey Epstein remarked. "It will be a key factor in prioritizing them for constant vigilance."
The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, funds science research around the world. Jeffrey Epstein is a former member of the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations and the New York Academy of Science. He is actively involved in the Santa Fe Institute, the Theoretical Biology Initiative at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and sits on the Mind, Brain and Behavior Advisory Committee at Harvard University.
SOURCE Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation