Breast Cancer DNA Study Yields New Targets for Therapy

By  //  September 25, 2012

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Medical Research

(VIDEO by NationalCancerInstitute)

EDITOR’S NOTE: With October right around the corner and again heralding a month of national breast cancer awareness, it is heartening to know that a breakthrough study by a consortium of research institutions called The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and recently published in the journal Nature identified four different categories of breast cancer using genetic sequencing, which is projected to provide a “road map” for selective categorical treatment.  

As reported in the Bloomberg Business Week article excerpted below, the TCGA is a federal initiative that aims to analyze the genetics of 20 different types of cancer. The project’s findings that unique sets of genetic changes may be causing individual tumors to grow within the identified four major groups of breast cancer is expected to launch a wave of new clinical trials and ideas for precise treatments designed to block these genetic aberrations.

Genetic mapping of hundreds of breast cancer tumors confirmed there are four main subtypes and discovered that one closely resembles ovarian cancer, suggesting the two may be attacked with similar therapies.

The study, in which the genomes of 825 breast tumors were sequenced, was the most comprehensive of its type involving the disease. It is part of a U.S. research project into the genetics of 20 types of cancers. Earlier this month, the group, called the Cancer Genome Atlas project, released a similar report on new DNA mutations affecting a type of lung malignancy.

The breast cancer findings were published yesterday in the journal Nature. They support the expanding medical view that cancers should be categorized by their genetic origins, rather than where they’re found on the body. The link between breast and ovarian cancer gives scientists added leverage to compare treatments and outcomes across both tumors.

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