Gene research is the study of DNA to find out what genes contribute to breast cancer. If we find out what causes breast cancer, we can better detect the disease, better treat the disease and hopefully even prevent the disease from happening in the first place.
Here at Prevent Breast Cancer we are currently funding three key gene research projects:
- Lobular Breast Cancer Gene – is there a gene that contributes to developing lobular breast cancer?
- SNPs Study – investigates how breast density might increase an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer
- Molecular Basis of Breast Density – why do some women have dense breasts and how is connected with breast cancer?
Nearly every disease we know of has a genetic component. We inherit our genes from our parents. Genes tell our bodies how to grow and perform. About 25,000 genes allow our bodies to develop and work and DNA makes up each one of these genes. DNA is a very long code that uses only 4 symbols. We know that variations in this code can alter the way a gene works and can therefore lead to the development of breast cancer.
Our team has been working with other groups to identify the genes behind breast cancer; not just the very high risk familial mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2. We now have a whole list of more intermediate-level predisposing genes. One of the benefits of this research is that we are now able to predict with better accuracy which women are at risk of the disease. Early warning of susceptibility allows those women to take preventative action, for example by regular screening. We are learning that breast cancer does not just strike randomly; most women who get the disease may have underlying susceptibility in their genes.