Genetic Breakthrough Raises Hope For Breast Cancer Sufferers

Breast Cancer Gene

PA/The Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 24/02/2012 15:56 Updated: 24/02/2012 16:30

The genetic code of the most common form of hereditary breast cancer has been mapped for the first time, offering hope for diagnosis and treatment of the disease in the future.

Researchers say they have "fully sequenced" the DNA of two breast cancers caused by a faulty BRCA1 gene, which is responsible for aggressive and highly drug-resistant tumours.

The team from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) say they hope that their work will lead to more tailored treatment for patients.

Dr Rachael Natrajan, one of the scientists involved in the study, said: "It is exciting to find new genes which could be involved in causing and driving breast cancer. Now these have been identified we have to do more work to find out the role that they play.

"Ultimately, this knowledge could help us develop new treatments that target the specific defects of each patient's disease."

Breast cancers genetically passed down through families account for up to 10% of all cases, affecting around 4,500 people in the UK each year.

The scientists said cases caused by the BRCA1 gene are "usually aggressive" and "do not benefit" from targeted drugs such as tamoxifen and herceptin.

The research, published today in the Journal of Pathology, found that despite both tumours being caused by the same source they mutated in almost completely different ways.

Professor Jorge Reis-Filho, who co-authored the study, said: "This research has big implications for how we treat hereditary breast cancer in the future.

"We often consider patients with a faulty BRCA gene as one group but our work shows that each tumour can look very different from each other genetically. Now we understand this, we can start to identify the best treatment strategies to save more lives of hereditary breast cancer patients."

Using the information gathered they then scanned the genetic code of several other breast cancers and discovered three genes, not previously linked to the disease, which they believe are worth investigating further.

The study also included teams from the Institut Curie in France, the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, The Cancer Research UK London Research Institute in London and the University of Nottingham.

Last week the ICR, writing in the British Journal of Cancer, said all women under 50 who are diagnosed with triple-negative (TN) breast cancer should be screened for the BRCA1 gene fault, which also carries with it an additional high risk of developing ovarian cancer.

It said the screening could identify hundreds of extra women every year who may benefit from tailored therapy.
 
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign said: "These results reinforce our understanding that each breast cancer develops differently, even from the same inherited faulty gene, and so treatment options need to be tailored to each patient to ensure the best possible outcome. The work targeting the causes of breast cancer will be continued by Dr Rachael Natrajan with her new five-year scientific fellowship, funded by Breast Cancer Campaign."

Loading Slideshow...
  • Breast Cancer Screening Bra 'Catches 90% Of Tumours In Tests'

    A bra which hope to detect breast cancer in wearers, before it can be seen in traditional scans, has shown promising early results. In a series of clinical trials, the bra successfully detected over 90% of breast tumours at a very early stage. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/25/breast-cancer-detect-bra_n_2016369.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>

  • Women With Bigger Breasts Have Higher Risk Of Breast Cancer, Finds Genetic Study

    According to new research, a genetic link has been made between breast size and breast cancer risks. Medical News Today reports that genetics company 23andMe has identified seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - or genetic variations - significantly associated with breast size. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/05/health-bigger-breasts-higher-cancer-risk_n_1650466.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>

  • Stress Speeds Spread Of Breast Cancer, Suggests Study

    Stress can hasten the spread of breast cancer to the bones, research suggests. Studies of mice showed that responses to stress made it easier for tumours to take root in the bone. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/18/health-stress-speeds-spread-breast-cancer-women_n_1682069.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>

  • Breast Cancer Screening Led To 4,000 Women Undergoing Unnecessary Treatment - Study

    Breast cancer screening leads to thousands of women undergoing unnecessary treatment despite saving lives, according to an independent review. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/30/breast-cancer-4000-women_n_2042664.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>

  • Breast Cancer Treatment That 'Melts' Tumours

    Cancer Research Technology (CRT) has launched a spin-out company that will develop a next-generation of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) surgery to treat - and melt - cancer tumours. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/25/new-cancer-tumour-melting-device-coming-soon_n_1231308.html?ref=uk-lifestyle" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • New Genetic Test Could Save Thousands From Chemotherapy

    Almost half of women with the most common form of early breast cancer could be spared chemotherapy thanks to a genetic test, research suggests. The Oncotype DX test involves the examination of genes taken from a sample of a tumour removed during surgery. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/16/genetic-breast-cancer-test-to-cut-chemotherapy_n_1153475.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Breast Cancer Could Be Detected In Seconds Using Anti-Landmine Technology

    Breast cancer could be detected in seconds using new, anti-landmine technology. British scientists have developed a revolutionary breast-screening system that uses anti-landmine technology to detect cancer in seconds. The radio-wave scanner is safer, cheaper and less painful than traditional mammogram X-rays, and unlike the current system, can be used on women of all ages. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/02/new-scan-detects-breast-cancer-in-seconds-anti-landmine-technology_n_1125166.htm" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Low GI Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

    According to new scientific research, eating a low glycemic index (GI) diet could drastically decrease the risks of breast cancer. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/16/low-gi-diet-may-reduce-breast-cancer-risks_n_1208477.html " target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Fresh Doubts Over HRT Treatment And Breast Cancer Risks

    The controversial link between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer has resurfaced, with health experts claiming that there is no solid evidence that HRT increases breast cancer risks. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/16/fresh-doubts-over-hrt-treeatment-breast-cancer_n_1208863.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • New Paraben 'Link' To Breast Cancer Risks

    New scientific evidence has indicated that common preservative chemicals found in underarm antiperspirants and thousands of other everyday products, can be detected in breast cancer tumours. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/12/paraben-chemical-linked-to-breast-cancer_n_1202144.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Cancer Drugs Might Help Tumours Spread, Rather Than Preventing Them

    Cancer drugs that are designed to shrink tumours by cutting off the supply to their blood may be doing the opposite and helping them spread to other parts of the body, a study has warned. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/17/cancer-drugs-might-help-tumours-spread_n_1210647.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story..</a>.</strong>

  • Boiling Breast Cancer Tumours 'Kills Them In Minutes'

    A new treatment for breast cancer has been discovered after scientists found that breast tumours can be killed in minutes - by boiling them <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/22/boiling-breast-cancer-tumours-kills-them-in-minutes_n_1107632.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Alcohol Warning To Women With Family History Of Breast Cancer

    Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer should avoid drinking alcohol, a new study suggests. Health experts warn that women whose mothers, grandmothers and aunts have had breast cancer, are more than twice as likely to develop the disease than non-drinkers. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/15/alcohol-warning-to-women-with-family-history-breast-cancer_n_1094409.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

  • Britain Lagging Behind In Breast Cancer Survival Rate

    The UK is lagging behind other countries on survival rates for breast, bowel and cervical cancer and has much higher hospital admission rates for asthma, research shows. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/24/britain-fall-behind-on-cancer-survival-rates_n_1111590.html " target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>

FOLLOW HUFFPOST UK LIFESTYLE