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New study reveals for first time how BRCA1 mutations cause breast cancer
Date:12/9/2007

NEW YORK An international team of researchers led by Columbia University Medical Centers Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and Swedens Lund University has, for the first time, revealed how mutations in the BRCA1 gene lead to breast cancer. Findings show that one way BRCA1 mutations cause cancer is by knocking out a powerful tumor suppressor gene known as PTEN.

The new study will be published online on the Nature Genetics website on Dec. 9, 2007: http://www.nature.com/ng. It will appear in the January print issue of this journal. The study was led by Ramon Parsons, M.D., Ph.D., the Avon Foundation Professor of Medicine and Pathology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and ke Borg, Ph.D., professor of oncology at Lund University. The papers first author was Lao Saal, Ph.D. (now finishing his medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons).

These findings are exciting because ever since the link was established between BRCA1 and breast cancer more than 10 years ago, we have been frustrated by our lack of understanding about how mutations in this gene cause breast cancer. We have been stymied by our limited resources to treat these cancers, which are associated with very poor prognoses. Now that we know that PTEN is involved, we finally have a target for therapy for these cancers, said Dr. Parsons, the studys corresponding author. Dr. Parsons is director of the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Research Laboratory and director of the Breast Cancer Program of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

In 1997, Dr. Parsons led one of the two teams that independently discovered the PTEN, one of the most important tumor suppressor genes altered in breast cancer, as well as in brain and prostate cancers. PTEN is now recognized to be mutated in about 30 percent of all cancer
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Contact: Elizabeth Streich
eas2125@columbia.edu
212-305-6535
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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