Forbes Awarded Grant for Breast Cancer Detection Research

Neil Forbes

Neil S. Forbes, associate professor of chemical engineering, has been awarded a one-year, $40,000 grant from, a Greensboro, N.C.-based organization that funds research into the early detection of breast cancer.

Forbes says he is working to develop a non-toxic, non-invasive bacteria that accumulates in tumors and can be safely given to patients. It will create a biomarker specific to breast cancer and can then be detected in a blood sample.

He says Salmonella typhimurium can be engineered to detect both early breast tumors and micro-scale metastatic lesions. Once the bacteria have detected the cancer, it can be removed from the patient’s body by triggering a genetic failsafe mechanism that induces bacterial cell death, Forbes says. says discovery of an earlier biological test will raise a red flag that breast cancer is in the body — possibly before a tumor has even formed. Patients would then be able to begin treatment far earlier than it is available now. In addition, surgery could be minimized, if not eliminated and the damage that cancer does to the body could be minimized as well. Treatments are constantly improving, so new approaches could be employed on an ongoing basis.

The group also believes adependable biological test would allow a breast cancer survivor and the attending medical team to rest assured that they would be quickly aware if a recurrence occurred. Action could then be initiated quickly.