Page URL:

Genetic similarities found between ovarian and breast cancers

1 October 2012
Appeared in BioNews 675

Scientists have found molecular similarities between a subtype of breast cancer and a hard-to-treat form of ovarian cancer. The researchers analysed over 800 tumour samples, characterising their DNA and protein expression patterns. These results provide greater detail into what goes wrong in breast cancer.

Professor Carlos Caldas, from Cancer Research UK, who was not involved in the study said: 'This comprehensive new analysis of 800 breast tumours is a welcome addition to the wealth of new information about the underlying biology of breast cancer, and will be a precious and valuable resource for cancer researchers'.

Researchers, based at National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in the USA, studied over 800 tumours in detail, looking at DNA, mRNA and protein expression patterns. In doing so, researchers found the breast cancers fell into four main groups; HER2-enriched, luminal A, luminal B and basal-like.

Further study showed the basal-like subtype of breast cancer had similarities, at the level of the genome, with serous ovarian cancer. Similar genomic mutations and frequencies of mutation were found between both forms of cancer.

Basal-like breast cancer is often referred to as triple negative because these tumours generally test negative for three receptors normally associated with breast cancer. This makes them resistant to conventional treatment methods that target these receptors.

Professor Harold Varmus, of the NCI, said: 'The molecular similarity of one of the principal subtypes of breast cancer to that found in ovarian cancer gives us additional leverage to compare treatments and outcomes across these two cancers. This treasure trove of genetic information will need to be examined in great detail to identify how we can use it functionally and clinically'.

It is expected that new findings will emerge from this comprehensive study. Eric Greene, director of the NHGRI, comment: 'The data generated by this programme comprise a vast resource that investigators will be analysing for years to come. The resource of information about breast cancer genomes will undoubtedly fuel myriad discoveries by the cancer research community'.

Comprehensive molecular portraits of human breast tumours
Nature |  23 September 2012
Study finds similarities between ovary, breast cancers
New York Daily News |  26 September 2012
Study gives better picture of genetic causes of breast cancer
Cancer Research UK |  23 September 2012
Study reveals genomic similarities between breast cancer and ovarian cancer
The Cancer Genome Atlas (press release) |  23 September 2012
6 January 2014 - by Dr Rachel Montgomery 
An injection to prevent breast cancer by silencing a cancer-causing gene has shown early promise in mouse studies...
9 September 2013 - by Dr Katie Howe 
Researchers have identified a gene in mice that, if faulty, increases the chances of developing ovarian cancer....
7 May 2013 - by Suzanne Elvidge 
Genetic analysis of tumours provides the key to treating them effectively, according to two studies carried out by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA)....
11 March 2013 - by Dr Daniel Grimes 
The source of stem cell-like cells that can give rise to ovarian cancer in mice has been found, reports a study in the journal Nature...
21 January 2013 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Women at high risk of developing breast cancer should be offered preventative drugs, suggests the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in updated guidelines...
21 May 2012 - by Dr Rebecca Hill 
The genetic landscape of breast cancer is much more complicated than previously hoped, according to the authors of two analyses of multiple tumour genomes...
8 May 2012 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
A link between modifications to a white blood cell gene and an increased risk of breast cancer could be the basis for a simple blood test to identify women most at risk of developing the disease...
23 April 2012 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
Breast cancer can be reclassified into ten separate 'diseases' based on its genetic characteristics, according to scientists. Analysis of the DNA and RNA from almost 2,000 tumours identified ten genetically different subtypes of breast cancer with different survival outcomes. The information could be used to better predict the outcomes of the disease, as well as offer tailored treatment to patients...
15 August 2011 - by Dr Maria Teresa Esposito 
Scientists have discovered a rare genetic fault that raises a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer six-fold. It has been hailed as the most important discovery in the field in the last ten years, and offers hope for new treatments...
13 September 2010 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Two new genetic mutations associated with the aggressive cancer, ovarian clear cell carcinoma, have been identified by two independent studies. The mutations - in genes ARID1A and PPP2R1A - shed light on how clear cell tumours may arise and potentially provide potential new drug targets...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.