Research links geochemistry, medicine

March 12, 2013 by Nikki Cassis

Groundbreaking work that straddles the fence between geochemistry and medicine was the subject of a recent article appearing on AZCentral. The March 6 article, written by Dianna M. Náñez, examined the research of a team of ASU researchers pioneering a new technique that could detect certain cancers earlier.

Ariel Anbar, a professor in the School of Earth and and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in ASU's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, has been working to refine a technique that would measure calcium isotopes in blood and urine samples.

Bone loss occurs in a number of cancers in their advanced stages. By the time these changes can be detected by X-rays, as a loss of bone density, significant damage already has occurred.

With the new technique, bone loss is detected by carefully analyzing the isotopes of the chemical element calcium that are naturally present in urine.

"The hope is to establish a biomarker that would detect the spread of breast cancer to bone tissue earlier, detect a precursor condition tied to bone-density loss in patients that may develop multiple myeloma and assess whether cancer and bone-loss treatments are working," Náñez writes.

Melanie Channon, a Bisgrove Scholar recipient, joined Anbar's team as a postdoctoral research assistant. Her award funding will allow her to dedicate the next two years to cancer research.

Anbar and Channon's research piqued the interest of Mayo Clinic doctors who have provided blood and urine samples from their patients.

Explore further: Study identifies causes of bone loss in breast cancer survivors

More information:

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