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'Network' approach identifies potential breast cancer susceptibility gene
Date:10/9/2007

BOSTON--Like a crossword-puzzle solver who uses the letters in some answers to figure out others, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an international group of collaborators have used data on genes involved in inherited forms of breast cancer to identify a gene linked to non-hereditary cases of the disease.

Their approach, described in a study posted online by the journal Nature Genetics, didnt require any new experiments or lab procedures, but used standard analytic methods and "data mining" techniques to discover new cancer-related genes in information gathered from previous studies. The technique may help researchers find genes associated with other forms of cancer as well, plus non-cancerous conditions that have a genetic basis, the authors stated.

"More than 85 percent of breast cancer cases dont have a hereditary link. That is, they arise in women who havent inherited an abnormal gene that increases their risk for the disease," said study co-author David E. Hill, PhD, of Dana-Farbers Center for Cancer Systems Biology, where the research was based. "Science knows very little about which genes are involved in such cancers. Even among the 15 percent of breast cancers that do have a hereditary component, the responsible genes are known in only about three-quarters of cases."

In this study, Hill said that the researchers wondered if they could use the developing tools of network modeling (which probes the connections between genes and between proteins) and expression profiling (which focuses on patterns of gene activity) to guide them in finding candidate breast cancer genes.

Beginning with a list of four genes known to cause breast cancer when inherited in an abnormal form == BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, and CHEK2 == the investigators gathered information from existing studies on connections between those "hub" genes and their gene partners. Those studies were of five kinds: expression profiles of genes whose activity mir
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Contact: Teresa Herbert
teresa_herbert@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5653
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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