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07/29/2005

This is Good News!

          Gene Trigger Found in Breast Cancer

   A Spanish researcher working with a U.S. team at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York has found a gentic sequence which causes breast cancer to spread and to move into other organs such as the lungs. This is very good news. There are over 3500 different kinds of cancer. It has been long thought that a so called 'cure' for cancer was a myth. This latest research would seem to confirm that. Cancer is a condition of cell growth mandated by an individual's genes. These genes may be mutated by the environment or completely hereditary. That a sequence requiring multiple keys has been found bodes well for the future of cancer suppression.

                                     Our children may live to be 200

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Scientists identify new breast cancer genes

A set of genes that drives breast cancer to spread and grow in the lungs has been identified by scientists.

The discovery could pave the way to new methods of spotting aggressive breast cancers that target the lungs, the researchers said today.

It may also help scientists develop therapies to thwart metastasis, the deadly spread of cancer around the body.

Researchers traced the genes by injecting mice with cultured cells originally taken from the lung of a patient with metastatic breast cancer.

Essentially the mice were used as a "cell sorter". Specific cancer cells were isolated from those mice that developed aggressive lung metastasis. Using a DNA microarray, or "gene chip", the activity of genes in these cells was then analysed.

The scientists identified a "thumbprint" of genetic activity involving 54 genes that appeared to be particularly associated with lung metastasis. They discovered the same pattern in a group of 82 early stage breast tumours removed from patients.

More than half the patients with the "thumbprint" went on to develop lung metastases, compared with only 10 per cent whose primary tumours did not carry the gene set.

Multiple genes

Dr John Massague, who led the study at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, said: "Our work shows that the ability of a tumour to form metastases depends on the combined action of multiple genes - and a different set of genes is required for each organ the tumour spreads to. Based on these insights, we can now seek genes for metastasis by other tumours and to other organs."

One subset of the genes involved in lung metastasis promoted primary tumour growth, while another affected the cancer's virulence in the lungs, the scientists reported in the journal Nature.

Earlier work by Dr Massague's team led to the identification of different genes that help breast cancer cells spread to bone.

Dr Massague said there were already drugs on the market that could target some of the newly discovered genes.

"If you can successfully target these genes with a drug, you are helping slow the growth of any primary tumour and also blocking the growth of any tumour cells that have spread to the lungs," he added.

The next step is a study involving a larger number of breast cancers from a greater range of patients. The scientists are also looking for gene patterns in other forms of cancer that often spread to the lungs.

"Clinicians tell me that the management of a patient who is likely to relapse - or likely to relapse to the bone versus the lung - is very different than managing non-relapsing patients," said Dr Massague. "So at minimum, such knowledge of the likelihood of relapse will help the patient and the physician to be prepared.

Also, knowing the organ in which the metastases may recur makes it feasible to follow up more effectively with tests on that patient after removal of the primary tumour, to look for any sign that the tumour is coming back."

...London Daily Mail

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This is good news, and it's only the beginning.

Read Matt Ridley:

Genome
Nature Via Nurture
The Red Queen
The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
The Future of Disease: Predictions

(He has written 22 books - these are his most famous)

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