Fingerprints of Breast Cancer
school science project has inspired researchers to focus on fingerprints
as possible genetic marker for increased risk of breast cancer.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative is funding a one-year
project called Digital Dermatoglyphics and a Family History of Breast
Cancer. Digital dermatoglyphics are fingerprints.
Linda Cookan epidemiologist with the Alberta Cancer Board and the
University of Calgary will be heading the research. She says, "It
is well known that there is a genetic component to breast cancer.
Two genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) have been identified as genetic links,
but these account for only a small proportion of cases."
have some evidence from a small study to suggest that a family history
of breast cancer might be associated with a specific fingerprint
pattern. If we do find an association, fingerprints might potentially
be used for screening
or to guide future research."
small study that she mentions is the Calgary science fair project
of Breanne Everett and Caitlin Hicks. Both students are in the twelfth
grade at Springbank Community High School. Their study was simple,
but provided enough information to spur additional research - and
win first prize at the science fair.
started with the idea that fingerprints have been studied as diagnostic
indicators for genetic diseases such as schizophrenia and diabetes.
find out if this is true for breast cancer, they used a free software
program from the FBI. They recruited a small number of volunteers
to analyze the fingerprints and discovered that there does seem
to be a link. A right loop thumb print pattern was more likely to
indicate a first degree family history of breast and ovarian cancer
than an arch, whorl, tent, or left loop thumb print pattern.
at the science fair put the students in touch with Dr. Cook. The
results interested the researcher so much that she enlisting the
students as junior collaborators and applied for a $40,000 grant
from the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative.
team will look at the fingerprints of women 20 to 69 years of age
from the Calgary Health Region. The more formal study will determine
if the pattern that the student's identified hold true in a larger
population. Dr. Cook added, "If we get positive results from
this study, further research would then be warranted to start to
address the underlying biology and genetics of this relationship,
as well as the value of dermatogylphic traits in predicting breast
research team will have the best training. The local Calgary Police
Department has offered to train the researchers in expert fingerprinting
methods to obtain the best quality samples.
CBCRI is pleased to support Dr. Cook and her young collaborators
as part of our IDEA Grants Program," says Dr. Marilyn Schneider,
executive director of the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative.
"CBCRI supports novel ideas such as this with small grants.
If this project pays off, it could ultimately lead to big dividends
on the Web:
dermatoglyphics and breast cancer
of Dermatoglyphic Patterns of Hands in Women with Breast Cancer