DNA 'photofits' for tumours - the future of breast cancer treatment

September 27, 2000

Stunning advances in the technology of molecular genetics mean that within the next few years, doctors should have the ability to provide a breast cancer patient with her own molecular profile.

That profile will be a unique genetic "fingerprint" that will tell the woman and her doctor how all the genes within her tumour are behaving, which receptors are responding to what stimuli, how much they are responding and precisely which proteins are functioning as co-activators or co-repressors of receptors.

The result will be a complete DNA 'photofit' of the tumour that will ultimately be able to determine what treatment, in what amount and for what duration will work best for that woman.

Dr C Kent Osborne, Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology and Director of the Breast Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, told delegates at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Brussels today (Wednesday 27 September) that the future was already with us, albeit in a less sophisticated form.

"We already know, for example, which breast tumours are oestrogen-dependent and will respond to hormonal therapies such a anti-oestrogens like tamoxifen. The best marker for response to hormonal treatment is the oestrogen receptor and about a third to a half of all breast cancers are oestrogen-dependent.

"As few as two or three percent of tumour cells expressing oestrogen receptors predict that tamoxifen will be beneficial and tumours that express large amounts will reap even greater benefit with a 50% to 60% annual reduction in recurrence risks if we give tamoxifen adjuvantly."

Dr Osborne said that this knowledge had already led to a significant fall in deaths from breast cancer in some countries where tamoxifen was in widespread use.

"But this is just the beginning. Many centres are working in this field and are already identifying other potentially important markers, such as the progesterone receptors, BcL2 and pS2, which are oestrogen regulated genes - also the HER2 oncogene which tells us that the patient may have less benefit from endocrine therapies.

"We don't know yet how many genes will turn out to have important predictive value. With up to 100,000 genes in each cell, potentially it could be hundreds or thousands. Obviously the hope is that it will be relatively few - 10 to 15 if we get lucky. But what I am sure of is that within the next five years we will have added enormously to our pool of knowledge about the genetic behaviour of tumours and that will put us on course, not only for producing designer drugs, but for a whole range of treatments tailored to the needs of the individual patient."
Note: After 30 September please contact Mary or Kay at 32-2-775-0203

ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.