Hopes for new targeted treatments as scientists link 100 genes to breast cancer
Scientists have linked more than 100 genes to an increased risk of breast cancer – paving the way for more personalised treatments, a study has said.
A team at The Institute of Cancer Research in London identified a “treasure trove” of specific genes involved in raising a woman’s risk of developing the condition.
They also linked 32 genes to the length of time a woman survived the disease.
In the future, testing for these genes could help identify the women most at risk, or could be explored as targets for new drugs, the researchers said.
Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “Large-scale genomic studies have been instrumental in associating areas of our DNA with an increased risk of breast cancer.
“This study brings these regions of DNA into sharper focus, uncovering a treasure trove of genes that can now be investigated in more detail.
“The ways in which particular genes influence cancer risk are highly complex.
“In the future, a better understanding of the genes identified in this study could lead to the discovery of new targeted drugs, or new strategies to improve diagnosis or prevention of the disease.”
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, used a new genetic technique to analyse which genes interacted with 33 DNA regions known to affect breast cancer.
Most of the 110 genes identified in the research had not been linked to breast cancer risk before.
The team says more work will be needed to establish the extent of their role in the condition.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, which funded the study, said: “These are really important findings. We urgently need to unravel how the genetic changes in the building blocks of our DNA influence a woman’s risk of breast cancer, and this study adds another vital piece to this jigsaw.
“More women are now being diagnosed with breast cancer than ever before, and these crucial findings could ultimately help us more accurately predict who is most at risk and develop new targeted treatments.
“Many of these genes have been relatively undocumented to date and we now hope further research will untangle their exact role in breast cancer risk, and how we could use them to stop more women developing the disease.”
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