Washington, DC Researchers at Georgetown Lombard Comprehensive Cancer Center have been able to show, in mice, how just a little adjustment in the expression of two common genes can promote the kind of cellular changes that led to breast cancer. They say these tweaks likely mimic natural variation women have in expression of the two genes.
In the May 15 issue of Cancer Research published online today, the scientists say that a readout of these two genes estrogen receptor alpha and p53 in healthy women could provide an "interacting biomarker" that might predict future breast cancer risk.
"It was believed that both of these genes only act once breast cancer had developed p53 mutations are found in many cancers, including breast cancer, and the majority of women with breast cancer have over-expression of this common estrogen receptor," says the study's lead investigator, Priscilla A. Furth, MD, a professor of oncology and medicine with Lombardi at Georgetown University Medical Center. "What wasn't known is that different levels of expression of these genes can help launch the cellular changes that lead to breast cancer.
"That suggests that testing women for their own variations in these genes might potentially give us a clue as to which women are at higher risk for development of breast cancer," Furth says.
The first author of the study is Edgar S. Daz-Cruz, Ph.D., a fellow at Lombardi supported by a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Postdoctoral Fellowship.
One focus of Furth's lab is to eventually develop a panel of tests that will accurately determine an individual woman's future risk of developing breast cancer so that counseling and monitoring can be tailored to each patient. To find the genes and proteins that carry such risk, she has developed unique mouse models in which she can manipulate various genetic factors to see how breast cancer risk changes over time.
In this study, Daz-Cruz and F
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Georgetown University Medical Center