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Improving diagnosis of metastatic Breast Cancer-Yani El-Tanani

Date published: 11/10/18

Improving diagnosis of metastatic Breast Cancer

  • Name: Yani El-Tanani
  • Current Organisation: University of Bradford

In May, Translate opened its summer student project scheme to support small medical technology development projects in the Leeds City Region. The scheme proved to be a massive success and 26 unique projects were funded. Learn more about their work in this blog.

I am Yani El-Tanani and I was awarded a Translate Summer Student Project to develop the diagnosis of metastasis in breast cancer (BC) patients.

The annual incidence of BC in the UK is 50,000 and around 1,000 die from BC every month. 5 out of 100 BC patients have metastasis when first diagnosed, and a further 35 out of 100 will develop metastasis within 10 years. This represents a considerable disease burden. The challenge is predicting metastatic disease early enough to improve patient outcomes. Currently, there are no reliable tests to predict whether early BC will spread. However, Professor El-Tanani demonstrated, in a retrospective study, a correlation between the novel biomarker protein and metastasis in BC patients.

Professor El-Tanani’s team is testing its newly developed BC biomarker. The biomarker will give the patient and clinician important information regarding their risk of metastasis and alongside other information will allow the clinician to prescribe the most appropriate treatment after surgery. The ultimate aim of this project is to improve survival rates in BC.

Firstly, I shadowed Professor El-Tanani’s research team and was shown a variety of techniques and skills. I was trained to isolate the plasma exosome by ultracentrifugation, then use our own biomarker antibody for development and verification of a prototype test for biomarker protein expression. We used exosomes isolated from donor and selected retrospective BC patient blood samples. After being well trained and proving my aptitude, I would continue to carry all this out in preparation for the development of a small-scale prototype kit that will be prepared for use in a retrospective study.

I will now begin testing normal and retrospective BC patient blood samples obtained from Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank. From the results I will have to identify a statistical correlation between the levels of biomarker and BC metastasis. This statistical correlation will be used to determine if the biomarker prototype kit is efficient in confirming that biomarker exosome expression plays a key role in the development of metastasis in BC patients.

This study is extremely relevant to my degree pathway of Biomedical Science. Working with a research team on the front line of medical technology has provided me with invaluable skills, techniques and experience.