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March 31, 2014

Genomics News
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» Breast cancer ‘personal drugs’ hope after gene study

According to BBC news today, “personalised” treatments for breast cancer are a step closer, according to research scientists at Cardiff University. The scientists used gene technology to compare and contrast specific genetic errors in particular types of mouse breast cells.  … Continue reading

October 26, 2010

Genomics News
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» Paternal health ‘disregarded in breast cancer cases’

The BBC website reports today that women at risk of breast cancer miss out on tests and early diagnosis because their father’s family’s health history is disregarded, a study has suggested. Canadian researchers say in Lancet Oncology that women were more likely to report a history of the disease on their mother’s side. They found women with a maternal cancer history were five times more likely to be referred by family doctors. A UK cancer charity said a father’s history was “often overlooked”.

It is thought that between 5% and 10% of breast and ovarian cancers are the result of a genetic inheritance. This is equally likely to have come from either the father or mother. A significant chunk of this genetic risk is known to come from defects on either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which make it much more likely that a woman will develop breast or ovarian cancer in her lifetime. If a woman has a strong family history of breast cancer, she can be referred for further testing to see if she has a known gene defect. She can then take steps to reduce the risk, or simply get checked more regularly to catch the cancer early.

Read the full article on the BBC website

The NHS National Genetics Education and Development Centre website has more information and resources on collecting, recording and interpreting family history information.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Read Joy’s real life breast cancer story on the Telling Stories Understanding Real Life Genetics website

September 8, 2010

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» Gene variations & breast cancer

According to BBC news: Gene variations may have breast cancer role.

Researchers say they have identified gene variations which may play a role in developing common breast cancer. A study of women in Finland and Sweden found 121 variations in their DNA linked to this particular kind of cancer. The team think they are linked to oestrogen production – which plays a role in a breast cancer type afflicting post-menopausal women. The findings might help identify women who might benefit from oestrogen-lowering drugs.

Poker hand

The researchers examined the genetic makeup of thousands of women with and without breast cancer in Sweden and Finland. They found 121 tiny variations in 15 different genes which they say appear to be linked to a woman’s risk of developing what is known as oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer. The variations are in a section of DNA close to a gene responsible for producing oestrogen and the suggestion is that the variations may play a collective role in the production of the female sex hormone. The individual impact of each variation is minimal but if a woman is dealt a combination of these variations, say the scientists, the higher her exposure to the hormone will be, and the higher the risk of cancer.

“Breast cancer genes have been identified, for example BRCA1, BRCA2, P53, ATM. These genes have been identified with breast cancer susceptibility but mainly in breast cancers of younger women,” says Dr Edison Liu of the Genome Institute of Singapore, who led the study.

“What we are finding here is potentially the genetic amplifiers for breast cancer in postmenopausal women which historically was considered not genetic in origin.”

It is already established that women who start menstruating early in life or who have a late menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer, because of their longer exposure to oestrogen. This research, says Dr Liu, may reveal the genetic element to the oestrogen equation.

“It’s like being dealt a bad hand in a poker game,” he says. “And this risk is greatly affected by other non-genetic factors like a woman’s reproductive history,” he says.

Known remedy

Dr Liu says that while the results will require further validation, the sample is large and the outcomes were significant. They have also detected the same genetic variations in women with cancer of the uterus where oestrogen exposure is also considered key.

Should the results be confirmed by further studies, he says the work could be used to identify women who carry a combination of these genetic variants, and who may benefit from existing oestrogen-lowering drugs to reduce the cancer risk.

“We’re moving closer and closer to personalised and tailored medicines,” he says. “Ultimately, we may be able to tailor oestrogen exposure up and down to optimise health and minimise risk.”

Nell Barrie, science communications officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “We know that oestrogen levels play an important role in the development of breast and womb cancers.

“This research brings us a step closer to understanding the many subtle genetic changes that interact to affect individual women’s risk of these diseases. Studying these changes should help to identify women most at risk so they can be offered tailored advice, screening and treatments in the future.”

Details of the research are being unveiled today at the British Society for Human Genetics Annual Conference, which is being held in Warwick.

August 3, 2010

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» The gene related to breast cancer may have role in prostate cancer

Accoring to Netdoctor news

Scientists have discovered that the way prostate cancer develops in men with a faulty ‘breast cancer gene’ is the same by which breast cancer develops in women with the same gene fault.

Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) identified early genetic changes that accumulate over time and lead to cancer in mice lacking the BRCA2 gene in their prostate gland.

The finding that both diseases develop the same way in men and women with a faulty BRCA2 gene suggests that breast cancer drugs may be effective against hereditary prostate cancer.

Lead author Dr Amanda Swain, from the Section of Gene Function and Regulation at the ICR, said: ‘The discovery that BRCA2 alterations play the same role in the development of hereditary prostate cancer as they do in breast cancer is an important step.

‘This sheds light on the relationship between the two conditions and could help highlight overlapping areas where similar treatments could be used to treat both.’

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said the findings in the journal PLoS Genetics suggest that breast cancer drugs called PARP inhibitors may also be effective against prostate cancer.

‘While we’ll need to see the results from more patients before we know if this drug could be used in men with this type of prostate cancer, this discovery shows that it’s an exciting possibility,’ he added.

Almost 45,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, while prostate cancer accounts for about 36,000 cancer diagnoses each year.

March 2, 2010

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» Gene test aid to cancer treatment

The BBC website reports that scientists have developed a gene test which predicts how well chemotherapy will work in cancer patients.

Starting with 829 genes in breast cancer cells, the team whittled down the possibilities to six genes which had an impact on whether a drug worked. They then showed that these genes could be used to predict the effectiveness of a drug called paclitaxel in patients. It is hoped the approach, reported in The Lancet Oncology, can be replicated for other cancers and treatments.

More than 45,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year – and it is estimated that around 15% of these women will be prescribed paclitaxel. The researchers estimate they could potentially spare half of the patients currently receiving this drug from treatment which would not be effective.

February 16, 2010

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» Breast cancer, genes and deprivation

Netdoctor News

Scottish scientists have discovered a link between deprivation and a gene involved in breast cancer.

The finding, which is published in the British Journal of Cancer, may help to explain why women from deprived backgrounds are less likely to survive breast cancer.

Researchers at the University of Dundee found that women from poorer backgrounds were more likely to have a faulty p53 gene, increasing their chances of relapse and death from the disease.

Dr Lee Baker, from the university’s department of surgery and molecular oncology, revealed that p53 mutations can come about in two ways – as a result of genetic predisposition and because of a poor lifestyle.

‘Smoking, drinking, poor diet etc can lead to p53 mutations and are more common in women from lower socio-economic groups, who are also more likely to experience a recurrence of the disease and to die as a result of breast cancer,’ he revealed.

‘This research makes a strong link between p53 and deprivation, and then between p53 mutation and recurrence and death.’

The scientist claimed that by lifting people out of deprivation, it may be possible to reduce their chances of having problems with their p53 gene and to ultimately reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.

Dr Caitlin Palframan, policy manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, commented that the reasons for the connection between deprivation and breast cancer survival are not yet known.

However, she noted that ‘a range of lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors are all likely to play a part’.

January 27, 2010

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» Genes may inform breast cancer treatment

Netdoctor Stories

The discovery of two genes that enable cancer cells to resist some chemotherapy drugs may lead to a new test to help doctors decide the best treatment for individual patients.

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston analysed the DNA in samples of tissue taken from breast cancer patients. They identified two genes that, when faulty, enable tumour cells to resist a common class of chemotherapy drug called anthracyclines. However, further research revealed that despite their resistance to these drugs, cells with overactive versions of the genes are still vulnerable to other drugs such as cisplatin and paclitaxel.

Lead researcher Dr Andrea Richardson, whose findings are published in the journal Nature Medicine, commented: ‘These results suggest that tumours resistant to anthracyclines may still be sensitive to other agents.

‘So this would be very useful as a test to help pick the therapy that’s going to be most effective for these patients.’

Meg McArthur, a spokeswoman for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said that the research is ‘important’ for identifying appropriate treatments for individual patients. She noted: ‘These are early, small-scale study results and more research is now needed before the benefits could be seen by patients.’

June 30, 2008

Genomics News
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» Familial Breast Cancer Study Day

The Nowgen Centre for Genetics in Healthcare (Manchester) is running a Familial Breast Cancer Study Day next month (18 July). This training day focuses on the role of primary and secondary care in delivering familial breast cancer services as outlined by NICE guidance and will include an update on mammographic screening and MRI, preventative surgery, risk estimation and the role of primary care in the management of those ‘at risk’. The full programme is available below. For more information contact the events team: T: 0161 276 5956 email: bookings@nowgen.org.uk Or “book online”: www.nowgen.org.uk/events

Flyer

Programme