The aim of this project is to demonstrate that genes that have become permanently activated because of the differentiation of the breast induced by a reproductive event, such as pregnancy, synthesize specific genes products that can be detected in the blood after the pregnancy event is over. Detection of these gene products in circulating blood will indicate that the breast has completed the process of differentiation, thus serving as an indicator of the presence of a protective factor, namely, a surrogate marker of lower susceptibility to develop cancer in early parous women.
This project is possible by the collaboration established with the Medical Biobank in Umeå, Sweden, linked to the Regional Cancer Registry administered by the Oncologic Center in Umeå and Swedish Medical Birth Registry. This collaborative work provides us a defined cohort of well characterized samples to test the hypothesis that the breast, during the process of differentiation induced by pregnancy and thereafter, synthesizes specific genes products that could be detected in the plasma. Biomarkers will serve to link the protective effect of pregnancy with reduction in breast cancer risk, and finally, they will serve as surrogate biomarkers for testing agents that mimic pregnancy, like human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), for the prevention of breast cancer. This project is also linked to a larger collaborative work in progress with New York University School of Medicine, Umeå University, Icelandic Tumor Registry, University of Tromsø in Norway and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.