Nav: Home

Research identifies new treatment targets in breast cancer

August 07, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY- Scientists at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U), in collaboration with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, have generated the first single cell resolution atlas of genes that control the formation of breast tissue. The atlas provides a comprehensive molecular map that will be used to help researchers understand how breast cancers form and to pinpoint new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat the disease. The findings were published today in Cell Reports. The study was led by Benjamin Spike, PhD, an HCI cancer researcher and assistant professor of oncological sciences at the U of U.

Scientists have recognized the relationship between normal organ development and cancer for more than 100 years. "We know that cancers are driven by mutations in specific genes that cause cells to multiply or to survive where they don't belong," said Spike. "During this process, cancer cells misappropriate whole circuitries of cell biology that are important and normal at other times in development. Our team works to understand this process by researching how cells normally work to form tissues. We also identify developmental programs that have been taken over by cancers. Some of these programs should make good targets for treating or preventing disease, even if they are not directly mutated."

Until recently, tools didn't exist that could simultaneously and individually analyze all of the different types of cells in an organ and their active genes, the segments of cellular DNA that encode functional molecules such as proteins.

Working with the lab of Geoffrey Wahl, PhD, professor at the Salk Institute, and others, Spike and his team isolated breast cells from mice during different stages of breast tissue development. The researchers then used new genome sequencing technology to analyze which genes are turned on and off in more than 6,000 individual cells during normal development. This approach revealed a list of hundreds of potentially critical genes for further study as regulators of normal and cancerous development. These genes may provide targets for certain breast cancers that don't have molecular targeted therapies.

"This research promises new targets for these cancers, including genes involved in specialized cellular metabolism that are shared between early breast development and certain breast cancers," said Spike. The data from the study gives new insights about the organizing principles of tissues and the molecular definitions of the cell types comprising them. The research shows that breast cells in early development that are not fully differentiated into mature cell types activate more genes, resulting in mixed profiles and expression of some genes in unexpected breast cell types.

With this new data resource, researchers are now working to determine how these genes and pathways promote cancer and identify new drugs to block them.
-end-
The study was funded by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Chapman Foundation, and Helmsley Charitable Trust, with additional support from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (R35 CA1967687, P30 CA42014 and P30 CA014195).

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah is the official cancer center of Utah. The cancer campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer specialty hospital as well as two buildings dedicated to cancer research. HCI treats patients with all forms of cancer and operates several clinics that focus on patients with a family history of cancer. As the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West, HCI serves the largest geographic region in the country, drawing patients from Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. HCI scientists have identified more genes for inherited cancers than any other cancer center in the world, including genes responsible for hereditary breast, ovarian, colon, head, and neck cancers, along with melanoma. HCI manages the Utah Population Database - the largest genetic database in the world, with information on more than 9 million people linked to genealogies, health records, and vital statistics. The institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

Huntsman Cancer Institute

Related Cancer Articles:

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.
Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Sound And Silence
Sound surrounds us, from cacophony even to silence. But depending on how we hear, the world can be a different auditory experience for each of us. This hour, TED speakers explore the science of sound. Guests on the show include NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly, neuroscientist Jim Hudspeth, writer Rebecca Knill, and sound designer Dallas Taylor.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer
With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there's been a lot of debate about how much power the Supreme Court should really have. We think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful beings, issuing momentous rulings from on high. But they haven't always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, started it all.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.