Saturday October 19, 2019

Researchers Identify Key Gene Behind Breast Cancer

If further tests confirmed that CBX2 was an "oncogene", it could be a potential therapeutic drug target for aggressive types of breast cancer

0
//
Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

Australian researchers have tracked an elusive cancer-promoting gene that appears to be behind aggressive breast cancers, paving the way for crucial therapeutic drug treatment for the deadly disease.

Researchers from the University of Queensland, together with Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the US, developed a statistical approach “to reveal many previously hard-to-find genes that contribute to cancer”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Even if a group of people all have the same type or even subtype of cancer, the molecular make-up of that cancer is different from person to person because the activity of genes varies between people,” said Jess Mar, Associate Professor at the varsity.

In the study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, the team used a method to “zoom in” on genetic information from cancer patients and identify genes with two distinct “bumps” of data — low activity in one group of patients but high activity in another.

Analysing breast cancer data from a major cancer genome patient database, the researchers identified five genes that were “over-active” in a subset of breast cancer patients and followed up on the most promising target, known as CBX2.

cancer
Key gene behind breast cancer identified. Pixabay

“Previous studies have shown that most healthy female tissue has low levels of CBX2 activity, while an aggressive subtype of breast cancer has been shown to have high levels of CBX2 activity,” Mar said.

“This suggested a possible link between CBX2 activity and breast cancer, but the nature of that link hadn’t been investigated,” she said.

“So we switched off the gene in a human breast cancer cell line and this slowed down the growth of those cancer cells, suggesting that CBX2 might promote tumour growth.”

Also Read- Vitamin D Can Help to Control Asthma, Says Study

If further tests confirmed that CBX2 was an “oncogene”, it could be a potential therapeutic drug target for aggressive types of breast cancer, Mar said.

“Identifying ‘hidden’ oncogenes that are unique to smaller groups of cancer patients will open up new therapeutic avenues and move us closer to personalized medicine,” she said. (IANS)

Next Story

Breast Cancer Drugs may Force Some Cancer Cells into ‘Sleeper Mode’

The team studied human breast cancer cells in the laboratory and examined the effects of a group of breast cancer drugs called hormone treatments

0
Breast Cancer, Drugs, Cells
The research could open avenues for finding ways of keeping the cancer cells dormant for longer, or even potentially finding a way of awakening the cells so they can then be killed by the treatment. Pixabay

Breast cancer drugs may force some cancer cells into ‘sleeper mode’, allowing them to potentially come back to life years after initial treatment.

The research could open avenues for finding ways of keeping the cancer cells dormant for longer, or even potentially finding a way of awakening the cells so they can then be killed by the treatment.

The team studied human breast cancer cells in the laboratory and examined the effects of a group of breast cancer drugs called hormone treatments.

“For a long time scientists have debated whether hormone therapies – which are a very effective treatment and save millions of lives – work by killing breast cancer cells or whether the drugs flip them into a dormant ‘sleeper’ state,” said Luca Magnani, lead author of the study from Imperial College London.

Breast Cancer, Drugs, Cells
Breast cancer drugs may force some cancer cells into ‘sleeper mode’, allowing them to potentially come back to life years after initial treatment. Pixabay

“This is an important question as hormone treatments are used on the majority of breast cancers. Our findings suggest the drugs may actually kill some cells and switch others into this sleeper state,” Magnani added.

“If we can unlock the secrets of these dormant cells, we may be able to find a way of preventing cancer coming back, either by holding the cells in permanent sleep mode, or be waking them up and killing them,” Magnani said.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the team studied around 50,000 human breast cancer single cells in the lab, and found that treating them with hormone treatment exposed a small proportion of them as being in a dormant state.

The ‘sleeper cells’ may also provide clues as to why some breast cancer cells become resistant to treatment, causing a patient’s drugs to stop working, and their cancer to return, the researchers said.

Also Read- Killer Gorge in Hell’s Gate National Park Closed after 7 killed

Hormone therapies are used to treat a type of breast cancer called oestrogen-receptor positive. These make up over 70 per cent of all breast cancers, and are fuelled by the hormone oestrogen.

These cancers are usually treated with surgery to remove the tumour, followed by a course of targeted hormone therapy – usually either aromatase inhibitors or tamoxifen, which target oestrogen receptors.

However, around 30 per cent of breast cancer patients taking hormone therapies see their cancer eventually return – sometimes as long as 20 years after treatment.

This returning cancer is usually metastatic, meaning it has spread around the body, and the tumours are often now resistant to medication. (IANS)