Gene behind aggressive form of breast cancer identified

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A cluster of breast cancer cells (Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images [email protected] via Flickr)

Scientists have identified the gene behind one of most aggressive forms of breast cancer in a breakthrough which could bring life-saving new treatments.

Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the most deadly forms of the disease and nearly one quarter of patients diagnosed will not survive for more than five years.

Now researchers at Cambridge University and the Wellcome Trust’s Sanger Institute have found that the BCL11A gene is overactive in eight out of 10 patients.

The study opens the door for therapies which suppress the gene and for screening that would pick up the risk early when women still had time to opt for life-saving mastectomies.

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Around 10,000 people a year are diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. The disease does not respond to traditional breast cancer drugs like Herceptin and is one of the most aggressive types.

“Whilst this investigation and the discovery of a new gene driver for triple negative breast cancer was mostly confined to cell lines and mice, this work could prove promising in the search for new ways to treat this form of the disease in the future,” said Dr. Christopher Runchel, research officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Read full, original article: Breast cancer breakthrough as Cambridge University finds gene behind killer disease

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