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Epigenetic study reveals new insights into breast cancer
Date:5/5/2011

hose expression is positively or negatively correlated to the expression of the ER gene, we showed a reverse correlation between methylation and expression status of the majority of these genes. This suggests that epigenetics is probably involved in the regulation of expression of genes playing an important role in the establishment of the two major phenotypes of breast cancer determined by ER status."

The analysis also revealed new information about new sub-types of breast cancer. The researchers showed that DNA methylation profiles enabled breast tumors to be classified in more groups than those currently defined.

"This is really the most interesting part of these data," Dr Dedeurwaerder said. "Indeed, several patients displaying the same known sub-type of breast cancer can respond differently to a given drug. An epigenetic difference between the tumors of these patients might explain the difference observed in terms of treatment response. Therefore, DNA methylation profiling could help to refine the current breast cancer classification and thus might help to stratify patients within a particular sub-type both in terms of prognosis and prediction to treatment response."

"I think we can harness epigenetic information to improve cancer care in several ways," Dr Dedeurwaerder said. "Firstly, several lines of evidence suggest that epigenetic dysregulation occurs early during carcinogenesis and can be detected in bodily fluids. Therefore, DNA methylation markers could help to provide an earlier detection of the disease."

"Secondly, it has already been shown that DNA methylation markers might help to better stratify patients in terms of prognosis. Thirdly, such markers could also help to predict response to a given drug."

"Lastly, an epigenetic therapy of cancer, alone or in combination with conventional therapies, is conceivable," Dr Dedeurwaerder said. "Indeed, several drugs have been developed and several clinical trial
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Contact: Vanessa Pavinato
media@esmo.org
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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