British Researchers Discover Breast Cancer is Actually Ten Different Diseases

Posted on April 18, 2012

A major study by the researchers at Cancer Research UK could revolutionize the way breast cancer is treated. The scientists determined that breast cancer is actually ten separate and different diseases, each of which requires different treatment. The scientists used computers to study the DNA and RNA of 22,000 breast cancer tumors to look for genetic fingerprints. The study was published today in the journal Nature. It is the largest global gene study of breast cancer tissue ever performed.

According to a statement released by the scientists, the results of the study allowed the scientists to classify breast cancer into ten subtypes which are grouped by common genetic features that correlate with survival. This new classification could change the way drugs are tailored to treat women with breast cancer.

In addition, the researchers discovered several completely new breast cancer genes that are implicated in causing the disease. These newly discovered genes are all potential targets for the development of new types of drugs. This information is now available to scientists worldwide to boost drug discovery and development.

The scientists also discovered the relationship between the newly discovered genes and known cell signalling pathways. These pathways are the networks that control cell growth and division. This new knowledge could help scientists pinpoint how these gene faults cause cancer, by disrupting important cell processes.

Professor Carlos Caldas, the senior group leader at Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Research Institute and the Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge, said: "Our results will pave the way for doctors in the future to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, the types of drugs that will work, and those that won't, in a much more precise way than is currently possible. This research won't affect women diagnosed with breast cancer today. But in the future, breast cancer patients will receive treatment targeted to the genetic fingerprint of their tumor."

Here the researchers talk about their groundbreaking findings:

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