One Sanguine Breakthrough in Breast Cancer


A new research claimed the highest breakthrough in understanding the genetic events that cause breast cancer and was published in International journal Nature.

Breast cancer– malignant tumor from the cells in breast is the most dreadful form of cancer common in 2016. Statistics show that one person is diagnosed with breast cancer every ten minutes. The mortality rate for breast cancer has hiked up to 12000 in UK since 2015. It has been estimated that breast cancers are caused due to genetic abnormalities were, 5-10% are due to abnormalities inherited from parents while, 85-90% are caused due to lifestyle changes and aging.

Several studies have been carried out for better understanding of this cancer and to develop personalized treatment strategies. It is believed that a clear picture of the genes responsible, mutations in them would be of great help in bringing out new therapeutics. Scientists got down to work and their relentless work for seven whole years has yielded fruit.

Great minds think alike

cambridge wellcome trust sanger institute cancer breakthrough

A massive collaborative study was carried out by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and East Anglian Medical Genetics Service. The funding for such milestone research was pooled in by the Wellcome Trust, the Institut National du Cancer (INCa) in France and European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme and several other organizations. The entire monumental research work is published in the International journal Nature.

The breakthrough

556 women and 4 men with breast cancer were chosen for study and tissue samples containing 70% tumor cells were identified and collected. Gene sequencing of these samples were done and the mutated genes, the degree of mutation, mutational signatures and genetic pattern that linked to breast cancer were perused.

Closer look into these genomic sequences has come out with 93 oncogenes carry probable driver mutations responsible for breast cancer. The mutational signature analysis has revealed twelve base substitution and six rearrangement signatures linked to breast cancer. 12 genetic patterns associated with breast cancer were discovered along with seven other patterns linked to other forms of cancer. MED23, FOXP1, MLLT4, XBP1 and ZFP36L1 are the genes that were identified through these studies which when mutated would cause breast cancer.

The buoyant aspect

This complete and utmost understanding of genes responsible for breast cancer has opened the floodgates for devising new personalized treatment strategies for every individual victim.

The Head of the team of researchers, Dr. Serena Nik-Zainal, said: “In the future, we’d like to be able to profile individual cancer genomes so that we can identify the treatment most likely to be successful for a woman or man diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a step closer to personalized healthcare for cancer“.

The benevolent researchers have made this whole data available to all biotech companies, pharmaceuticals and universities to speed up new therapeutics coming into market.

Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Professor Sir Mike Stratton, proudly says, “This huge study, examining in great detail the many thousands of mutations present in each of the genomes of 560 cases, brings us much closer to a complete description of the changes in DNA in breast cancer and thus to a comprehensive understanding of the causes of the disease and the opportunities for new treatments“.

The darker side

Though this is one sanguine moment for breast cancer therapy, scientists have warned that it may take decades ahead for development and commercialization of such drugs.

Prof Stratton also warns, “Cancers are devious beasts and they work out ways of developing resistance to new therapeutics so overall I’m optimistic, but it’s a tempered optimism“.

Researchers also fear that gaining financial assistance for developing novel drugs pertaining to some rare mutations identified in their study would be rather far-fetched.

This study has made thousands of cancer patients pin their hopes on new therapeutics being discovered in upcoming years.

Featured Image: Breakthrough written on multiple road sign© Gustavo Frazao (Stock Photo ID: 75610324)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *