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Team finds breast cancer gene linked to disease spread
Date:1/5/2009

a novel class of dual functional breast cancer genes that cause both metastasis and chemoresistance," Kang said.

Once the team had identified the specific gene, its scientists were able to re-examine the tumor samples. "By analyzing 250 breast tumor samples from patients, we found that this gene is amplified and overexpressed in over 30 to 40 percent of breast cancer cases," Kang said. "This indicates that new drugs against Metadherin may potentially benefit a large population of breast cancer patients."

Gene expression is the translation of information encoded in a gene into proteins that determine an organism's characteristics. Since only a fraction of genes in a genome are expressed in a given cell, genes that are turned "on" are viewed by scientists as a major signal that controls the biology of both normal and malignant cells.

Breast cancer is caused by a malignant tumor that develops from cells in the breast. The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast. Scientists once thought that breast cancer spreads first to nearby tissue and underarm lymph nodes before spreading to other parts of the body. They now believe cancer cells may break away from the primary tumor in the breast and begin to metastasize even when the disease is in an early stage.

The team also found that the double menaces of MTDH may be involved in the progression of other types of cancers, including prostate cancer.

The work was funded by a Department of Defense Era of Hope Scholar Award and grants from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research.

The Department of Defense awards, created in 2004, were designed to provide substantial funds and support for exceptionally talented, emerging breast cancer researchers -- individuals who had demonstrated extraordinary creativity, vision and productivity, according to Ca
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Contact: Kitta MacPherson
kittamac@princeton.edu
609-258-5729
Princeton University
Source:Eurekalert  

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