University of South Alabama

Expression of Merlin Protein as a Predictive Marker for Breast Cancer Diagnosis



The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States in 2017 that about 253,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. About 63,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is noninvasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer), and about 41,000 women will die from breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.  The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 37 (or about 2.7%). Death rates from breast cancer dropped from 1989 to 2007. Since 2007, breast cancer death rates have been steady in women younger than 50, but have continued to decrease in older women due to earlier screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments. Although immunoshistochemical analysis of tissues is a standard diagnostic technique, there is considerable value in identifying more reproducible and reliable markers with greater discriminatory power than ones that already exist.



Inventors at the University of South Alabama have identified a strong correlation between levels of expression of Merlin protein and stage of breast cancer progression based on data from tissue tumor microarrays. In addition, inventors have described the reciprocal relationship between levels of osteopontin (OPN), a malignancy promotin protein, and Merlin. This technology has utility as an innovative diagnostic marker for immunohistochemical identification of tumor tissue.



•  Diagnostic marker for breast cancer

•  Drugable target related to cause of cancer

•  Merlin expression does not vary by ethnicity or hormone levels

•  Earlier detection of breast cancer leading to more effective treatment of patients



Patent filed


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