New technique to study the genetics of breast cancer

November 11, 2008

A new technique to study genetic changes that can lead to breast cancer could be one step closer.

The University of Nottingham has received £15,000 from the charity Breast Cancer Campaign to fill in one of the research gaps identified by the country's top breast cancer experts in a recent study carried out by the charity. The aim is to identify the many undiscovered genes thought to be involved in the early stages of breast cancer.

The grant awarded to Ian Ellis, Professor of Cancer Pathology, is part of £2.3 million awarded to 20 projects around the UK. Professor Ellis said: "Thanks to funding from Breast Cancer Campaign I hope to develop a technique which would allow the genetic information of many thousands of breast samples to be studied which would be of huge importance in understanding the genetic changes that occur in early breast cancer."

It is known that breast cancer can develop when the genes in breast cells change and stop working properly. Inherited defects in genes account for around five to 10 per cent of all breast cancers but all forms of breast cancer have acquired gene defects during their initial stages of development and many of these genes are yet to be discovered. These defective genes can lead to physical changes in the breast cancer cell resulting in breast cancer.

The earliest physical sign of a normal breast cell developing into one common type of breast cancer is the presence of a flat atypical epithelial (FEA) cell. Professor Ellis will study the genes in the FEA cells to identify which ones are involved in the very earliest stages of breast cancer.

Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign, said, "Every year breast cancer kills 12,500 women in the UK. It is therefore vital that we identify new genes involved in breast cancer development so that women who inherit these faulty genes and are therefore at higher risk of breast cancer, can be monitored at an early stage."

Source: University of Nottingham

Explore further: Cells from same cell bank lots may have vast genetic variability

Related Stories

Team studies chromosome missegregation

May 3, 2016

A recent research study at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota is providing insight into the regulation of chromosome segregation and the mechanisms used by cells to prevent them from forming tumors.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.