BME Researchers Take on Breast Cancer

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Throughout October, The Whistle has highlighted how Georgia Tech researchers are participating in the fight against breast cancer. Here are some of the ways researchers in the Department of Biomedical Engineering are contributing to the fight. 

Predicting Which Chemo Treatment Will Work Best

Associate Professor Melissa Kemp is using a computational modeling and systems-level approach to better understand the metabolic pathways of one of the most commonly used drugs for breast cancer treatment, doxorubicin. With this approach, Kemp is able to predict how cancer cells from a patient are going to react to the doxorubicin chemotherapy based upon the individual’s enzyme levels.

Professor Ravi Bellamkonda’s research group is developing a contrast agent to quantify breast-cancer blood vessel leakiness in mice. This allows the researchers to predict how successful doxil treatment would be. Based on these predictions, the researchers correctly predicted whether administering the drug would significantly shrink breast cancer tumors in the mice.  

Improving Diagnosis with Better Mammography Images

Professor Brani Vidakovic is developing new methods to enhance the resolution of microcalcifications in digital mammograms. Cancerous cells cause microcalcifications that are usually very small (0.1 mm to 1.0 mm) and difficult to detect. By using a wavelet-transform algorithm, researchers are able to get improved visualization of smaller details. In a recent study, the new wavelet procedures correctly identified cancerous tissue with 86 percent accuracy, compared to 55 percent from current methods of visual inspection. Vidakovic is working on this research in collaboration with Mary Newell, a radiologist at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute.

Quick Cancer Diagnosis from Biopsied Tissue

Assistant Professor Manu Platt’s research group has developed a technique called “multiplex cathepsin zymography” that sensitively detects a class of protease biomarkers upregulated in many different types of cancers. They have used this on biopsied breast tissue to diagnose breast cancer with high sensitivity and specificity, and it does so in a relatively short time with the potential to reduce the patient waiting time for diagnosis results.

Understanding How Cancer Spreads

Assistant Professor Susan Thomas and her research group are trying to understand metastasis when breast cancer cells leave the primary tumor and migrate to draining lymph nodes. They are also examining how lymph node metastasis influences the immune systems of patients. Their goal is to develop new ways to treat metastasis as well as develop immunotherapies to treat breast cancer.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Amelia Pavlik
  • Created:10/29/2012
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016