Breast cancer has become a major problem in our community over the past few years and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. In Japan, despite having many advances in medical technology and an emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, the incidence of breast cancer has risen yearly. In fact, the projected breast cancer incidence in Japan was estimated to be at 92,300 in 2020, accounting for approximately 20% of all cancer cases in women.
Current methods of detection for breast cancer, such as mammograms and breast MRIs, can be uncomfortable, expensive, and inconvenient. This poses practical barriers to testing and discourages early screening. In Japan, the screening rate for women over the age of 40 is only about 40%. These statistics reveal the urgent need for the development of a widespread early diagnosis method for breast cancer in Japan and the global community.
Based on the issues raised regarding current breast cancer detection methods, our goal is to create a convenient, at-home breast cancer testing kit similar in design to a pregnancy test. This testing kit would make testing more accessible, less invasive, and more affordable for women of all ages. Through our testing kit, we hope to raise early screening and detection rates, and make breast cancer detection not only reliable and accurate but also a pain-free and simple process.
Our team's solution, ABrCaDaBra,is to use aptamers, which are single-stranded oligonucleotides, to detect biomarkers present in breast cancer patients. Through using a colorimetric output produced by aggregation of gold nanoparticles to detect the binding between aptamer and biomarker, we have developed a method for detecting breast cancer in an efficient and convenient manner. Our project is divided into two phases. In Phase 1 (year one), we will focus on theory-based experiments such as observing the interaction between aptamer and biomarker, along with testing our gold-nanoparticle detection system with biomarkers synthesized from E.Coli. In Phase 2 (year two), based on our results, we hope to build a physical hardware product combined with computer software for easy at-home detection. In addition, we plan on extending our results from the first year by converting our gold-nanoparticle assay into a portable and convenient paper strip.