Updated on 20 July 2012
Breast cancer: X-ray mammography is an important diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer, but it has certain drawbacks that limits its effectiveness. It can give false positive and negative results and also exposes women to low doses of ionizing radiation, which while accepted as safe, still carries some risk. Earlier this year, researchers from Netherlands' University of Twente and Medisch Spectrum Twente Hospital in Oldenzaal used photoacoustics (light-induced sound) rather than ionizing radiation to detect and visualize breast tumors. The team's preliminary results conducted on 12 patients with diagnosed malignancies provided proof-of-concept support that the technology could distinguish malignant tissue by providing high-contrast images of tumors. While this is still early days, the technology shows promise and could possibly lead to the development of a safe, comfortable, and accurate alternative or adjunct to conventional techniques for detecting breast tumors.
Another breakthrough this year was that scientists were able to map the genetic code of hereditary breast cancer for the first time, raising hopes for better diagnosis and treatment for the killer disease. This is the result of a collective effort that included research from the Institut Curie in France, the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, the Cancer Research Institute in London.
The team was able to sequence the DNA of two breast cancers caused by a faulty BRCA1 gene, responsible for aggressive and highly drug-resistant tumors that do not benefit from targeted drugs such as tamoxifen and herceptin. With this development, it would be easier to determine the best treatment strategies to save more lives of hereditary breast cancer patients.
Novel ideas save lives
Life sciences companies in the Netherlands strive to develop and produce innovative medicines and medical devices that enable people to live a long and happy life. From world-class companies developing modern technologies in the fields of genomics and medical technology to start-ups developing solutions for applications such as vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, their goals are all similar. Their objective is to drive exciting innovations for better and more sustainable healthcare solutions.