Weekly Breast Cancer Research Update – May 2016 – #2

May 9th, 2016

Scientists say they now have a near-perfect picture of the genetic events that cause breast cancer

A new study, the largest study of its kind, has unpicked practically all the errors that cause healthy breast tissue to go rogue and the findings are an important stepping-stone to new treatments.

To understand the causes of the disease, scientists have to understand what goes wrong in our DNA that makes healthy tissue turn cancerous, so the international team looked at all 3 billion letters of people’s genetic code – their entire blueprint of life – in 560 breast cancers.

They uncovered 93 sets of instructions, or genes that, if mutated, can cause tumours. Some have been discovered before, but scientists expect this to be the definitive list, barring a few rare mutations.

 

Two known chemotherapy agents effectively target breast cancer stem cells

Two existing chemotherapy treatments appear to be a powerful combination that can target the stem cells that make breast cancer and enable its spread and recurrence. Combining the treatments reduces the number of cancer stem cells and improves survival, however, when used alone, neither was effective.