Presenting Abstracts at ASCP 2013 Chicago Opens Doors for Researchers
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Just three weeks after receiving the Best Scientific Poster Award at ASCP 2013 Chicago, Seema Sethi, MD, is already embarking on the second phase of her research—developing a drug that can help prevent certain types of breast cancer from metastasizing to the brain.
“For my entire research group, this has provided a great sense of achievement. The research we presented at the ASCP Annual Meeting will help us develop targeted therapies so we can more aggressively treat patients with this form of breast cancer. Survival rates are low once breast cancer metastasizes to the brain.”
— Seema Sethi, MD
Presenting new scientific discoveries at a high profile event such as ASCP 2013 Chicago was enough of an honor, she says. So when she received the poster award, along with several requests for media interviews about her research, and had colleagues asking how fast she could actually develop therapies for patients, her excitement grew exponentially.
“For my entire research group, this has provided a great sense of achievement,” says Dr. Sethi, a resident at Wayne State University and Detroit Medical Center, and lead author of the study. “The research we presented at the ASCP Annual Meeting will help us develop targeted therapies so we can more aggressively treat patients with this form of breast cancer. Survival rates are low once breast cancer metastasizes to the brain.”
Her research identifies the epigenetic markers that determine whether breast cancer will spread to the brain, which could lead to earlier diagnoses and more effective treatment. Dr. Sethi’s team extracted micro RNA from the tumors of 90 women with breast cancer, including 45 whose cancer had metastasized to the brain and 45 whose cancer had not. After analyzing the data, researchers found that several micro RNAs were significantly altered in patients whose breast cancer had spread to the brain. They also identified several target genes involved in the process.
They believe these micro RNAs and their target genes could help identify which breast cancers eventually will metastasize to the brain when the cancer is first diagnosed and determine the course of therapy, including how aggressive treatment should be. This personalized medicine approach means targeted therapies and specific treatment options would be available depending on each patient’s medical history and epigenetic markers.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death among U.S. women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some breast cancers are more likely to spread beyond the breast, including to the brain. Currently, doctors don’t have a clear picture at diagnosis regarding which breast cancers are likely to metastasize to the brain and which are not.
“Presenting our research provided an opportunity to put it on a national, if not international platform, and to interact with other colleagues who are interested in this research,” she says.