Medical researchers are constantly making advances in the study of breast cancer but, from time to time, certain studies are considered breakthroughs – and one such breakthrough in relation to gene research was publicised in the news this week.
The results of the study have led scientists to believe they have a near-perfect picture of the genetic events that cause breast cancer. By counting three billion letters of people’s entire genetic code – analysing 560 individual tumours in total – the study has uncovered 93 sets of genes that, if mutated, can cause those tumours. Scientists expect this to be the definitive list, barring a few rare mutations.
This is significant for our cause because understanding the origins of breast cancer can help us to better detect and treat the disease, and hopefully even prevent the disease from developing in the first place.
The faults in the 93 DNA instructions outlined in the study reveal what has gone wrong inside normal cells to turn them cancerous. What this allows health professionals to do in principal is personalise treatment plans, matching patients with the drugs most likely to work for them. Meanwhile, researchers hope the findings could also eventually lead to new ways of reducing individuals’ risk of getting breast cancer.
This news is very welcome to Genesis, as discovering all the genetic changes that can lead to breast cancer is one of the four ways in which we might be able to prevent the disease. It also complements our own gene research studies, the most recent of which aims to identify which gene fragments increase or decrease risk of developing breast cancer.
However, despite this week’s discovery being undoubtedly important within genetic research, by itself, this advance is not enough. The other three keys to preventing breast cancer are early detection and screening, preventative drug therapy and improving diet and lifestyle. At Genesis, we conduct research across all four of these ‘pillars’ with the ultimate aim of preventing breast cancer for future generations.
For more information on the work our researchers have done, click here.