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A molecular switch is linked to a common breast cancer
Date:11/8/2007

Researchers have discovered that a molecular switch in the protein making machinery of cells is linked to one of the most common forms of lethal breast cancer worldwide. The discovery by researchers at NYU School of Medicine could lead to new therapies for the cancer, called locally advanced breast cancer (LABC).

Although precise data isnt available, LABC may account for 50 percent or more of breast cancers among women in developing countries, and 30 percent of breast cancers among socially disadvantaged and minority women in the United States. This type of cancer is defined by a large tumor that is about 2 inches or larger in diameter, about the size of a plum, when first diagnosed. The cancer may have spread into surrounding lymph nodes or other tissues. However, it hasnt yet spread to more distant areas in the body.

Without treatment, fewer than 20 percent of patients with LABC are living five years after their diagnosis. Unfortunately, even with appropriate treatments, this cancer is deadlier than other types of breast cancer that are detected earlier.

With funding from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Department of Defense, Robert J. Schneider, Ph.D., the Albert B. Sabin Professor of Molecular Pathogenesis, and Silvia C. Formenti, M.D., the Sandra and Edward H. Meyer Professor of Radiation Oncology and Chairwoman of Radiation Oncology, and their colleagues at NYU School of Medicine have made LABC the focus of a coordinated effort to understand the disease.

This disease has not been sufficiently studied, in part because of the social, psychological, economic, and cultural barriers that may stand in the way of obtaining care, says Dr. Formenti.

Our study shows that an unusual molecular switch occurs that is essential for the development of these large tumors. We think that this switch could be a target for new therapies, says Dr. Schneider.

The new study is published in
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Contact: Pamela McDonnell
Pamela.McDonnell@nyumc.org
212-404-3555
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine  
Source:Eurekalert

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