In women at high risk for breast cancer, a long-term drug treatment can cut the risk of developing the disease in half. Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health have now identified two gene variants that may predict which women are most likely to benefit from this therapyand which should avoid it.
The work represents a major step toward truly individualized breast cancer prevention in women at high risk for the disease based on their age, family history of breast cancer, and personal medical history.
"Our study reveals the first known genetic factors that can help predict which high-risk women should be offered breast cancer prevention treatment and which women should be spared any unnecessary expense and risk from taking these medications," said the study's lead scientist, James N. Ingle, M.D., professor of oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "We also discovered new information about how the drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene work to prevent breast cancer."
Ingle and Mayo-based colleagues in the NIH Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) conducted the study in collaboration with PGRN-affiliated researchers at the RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine in Tokyo. Data and patient DNA came from the long-running National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), supported by the National Cancer Institute.
"This innovative, PGRN-enabled international research partnership has produced the first gene-based method to identify which women are likely to benefit from a readily available preventive therapy," said PGRN director Rochelle Long, Ph.D., of the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences. "Because the disease affects so many women worldwide, this work will have a significant impact."
The research, which shows nearly a six-fold difference in disease risk depending on a woman's genetic makeup, appears in the June 13, 2013, issue of Cancer Discovery.
|Contact: Alisa Z Machalek|
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences