Detailed genetic picture of breast cancer revealed
© SEBASTIAN KAULITZKI/Science Photo Library
An international team has uncovered the most detailed evidence yet that the genetic profiles of breast cancers are highly specific to each patient. This finding represents a step towards bespoke cancer treatment based on an individual’s cancer genome.
In a study published in Nature, researchers analysed the whole genomes of 560 breast tumours, identifying 93 mutated cancer genes that were implicated in the genesis of breast cancer, including five previously unknown genes. They also found that the tumors of women carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes were genetically distinct from each other and from other breast cancers.
The study’s authors note that this information could one day help direct doctors to the most effective treatment for cancer sufferers.
"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," said lead author Serena Nik-Zainal from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in a statement.
The multi-centre team included researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
- Nature 2016; 534, 47–54. doi: 10.1038/nature17676