Scientists from The University of Manchester working with IBM Research have identified a key biological mechanism that for the first time explains why women with dense breast tissue are at greater risk of developing breast cancer.
The research, published today in the journal Cell Cycle, has important implications for future cancer prevention and treatment.
Women with higher breast densitydetected on mammogramshave more compacted breast tissue and are more likely to develop breast cancer, but until now the reasons for this have been unclear.
Manchester scientists, funded by leading UK research organization Breakthrough Breast Cancer, worked with IBM researchers and academics in the USA and Cyprus to uncover the biological mechanisms at play. Their findings could help to improve breast cancer prevention by targeting these specific biological mechanisms with cancer therapies in at-risk patients and could potentially lead the way for a new strategy for the use of preventative treatments.
Professor Michael Lisanti, from The University of Manchester, part of Manchester Cancer Research Centre, said, "We know that high breast density can greatly increase a woman's breast cancer risk as well as other factors such as aging, family history, and presence of mutations in genes such as BRCA 1 and BRCA 2.
"What no one has fully appreciated before are the underpinning mechanisms at play. Using a bioinformatics approach, we have identified the relevant signaling pathways that make dense breast tissue more favorable for tumor formation.
"This signaling pathway could be used as a biomarker to identify women at higher risk of breast cancer more accurately and earlier than the current methods. Furthermore, there are drugs out there that block these pathways, so that these women could be offered effective chemoprevention."
The researchers used structural cells, called fibroblasts, from high-density breast tissue
|Contact: Andrew Thompson|