Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genotyping & Gene Expression
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

A Marker for Breast Cancer

Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Research says it soon may be possible to gauge individual risk for disease, and eventually to treat it.

An international scientific collaborative led by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s Kornelia Polyak has discovered why women who give birth in their early 20s are less likely to develop breast cancer eventually than women who don’t, triggering a search for a way to confer this protective state on all women.

The researchers are now testing p27, a mammary gland progenitor marker, on tissue samples collected from thousands of women over decades — women whose medical histories have been followed extremely closely — to see if it is an accurate breast cancer predictor in a large population. If the hypothesis is confirmed, which appears likely within a few months, Polyak says the commercial development of a clinical test for breast cancer risk would follow.

In a paper just published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the researchers describe how a full-term pregnancy when a woman is in her early 20s reduces the relative number and proliferative capacity of mammary gland progenitors — cells that have the ability to divide into milk-producing cells — making them less likely to acquire mutations that lead to cancer.

By comparing numerous breast tissue samples, the scientists found that women at high risk for breast cancer, such as those who inherit a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, have higher-than-average numbers of mammary gland progenitors. In general, women who carried a child to full term had the lowest populations of mammary gland progenitors, even when compared with cancer-free women who had never been pregnant. In addition, in women who gave birth relatively early but later developed breast cancer, the number of mammary gland progenitors was again observed to be higher than average.

“The reason we are excited about this research is that we can use a progenitor cell census to determine who’s at particularly high risk for breast cancer,” said Polyak, a Harvard Stem Cell Institute principal faculty member and a Harvard Medical School professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “We could use this strategy to decrease cancer risk because we know what regulates the proliferation of these cells, and we could deplete them from the breast.”

Research shows that two trends are contributing to an increase in the number of breast cancer diagnoses, a rise in obesity and the ever-increasing number of women postponing childbearing. The scientists’ long-range goal is to develop a treatment that would mimic the protective effects of early childbearing.

The research, which took five years to complete, began with conversations between Polyak and Saraswati Sukumar, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The two scientists formed collaborations with clinicians at cancer centers that see large numbers of high-risk women, in order to obtain breast tissue samples. They also worked with genomics experts and bioinformaticians to analyze gene expression in different breast cell types. At times, Polyak and Sukumar had trouble gaining cooperation for the study, which is unique in the breast cancer field for its focus on risk prediction and prevention.

“In general, people who study cancer always want to focus on treating the cancer. But, in reality, preventing cancer can have the biggest impact on cancer-associated morbidity and mortality,” Polyak said. “I think the mentality has to change because breast cancer affects so many women, and even though many of them are not dying of breast cancer, there’s a significant personal and societal burden.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,300+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Harvard Licenses Genotyping Platform
Novel approach aids development of drug resistance testing products for HIV.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
New Weapon Against Breast Cancer
Molecular marker in healthy tissue can predict a woman’s risk of getting the disease, research says.
Thursday, April 07, 2016
A Cancer’s Surprise Origins, Caught in Action
First demonstration of a melanoma arising from a single cell.
Monday, February 01, 2016
Diagnosing Cancer from a Single Drop of Blood
What if a physician could effectively diagnose cancer from one drop of a patient’s blood?
Friday, January 08, 2016
Cell Memory Loss Enables the Production of Stem Cells
Scientists identify a molecular key that helps maintain identity and prevents the conversion of adult cells into iPS cells.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
So Long, Snout
Research helps answer how birds got their beaks.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Delivering Hope in Ovarian Cancer
Gene therapy blocked chemoresistant tumor growth in mice.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Expanding the Brain
A team of researchers has identified more than 40 new “imprinted” genes, in which either the maternal or paternal copy of a gene is expressed while the other is silenced.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Beyond Average
Researchers have created new platforms to genetically barcode tens of thousands of cells at a time allowing unprecedented detail to be uncovered when studying whole tissue samples.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
One Molecule at a Time
The ability to study single molecules provides tangible targets for personalised medicine.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Controlling Genes with Light
New technique can rapidly turn genes on and off, helping scientists better understand their function.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Harvard University and Oxford Nanopore Technologies Announce Licence Agreement
The agreement aims to progress nanopore science by integrating Harvard discoveries with technology in development at Oxford Nanopore.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Scientific News
Big Genetics in BC: The American Society for Human Genetics 2016 Meeting
Themes at this year's meeting ranged from the verification, validation, and sharing of data, to the translation of laboratory findings into actionable clinical results.
Cancer Genetics: Key to Diagnosis, Therapy
When applied judiciously, cancer genetics directs caregivers to the right drug at the right time, while sparing patients of unnecessary or harmful treatments.
Making Personalized Medicine a Reality
Groundbreaking technique developed at McMaster University is helping to pave the way for advances in personalized medicine.
Secret Phenotypes: Disease Devils in Invisible Details
Algorithmic deep phenotyping exposes masses of hidden traits and possible subtle genetic connections relevant to unseen influences on disease.
Hunting the Missing Link Between Genetics and the Environment
The International Phenome Centre Network (IPCN) works to transform healthcare through phenomics - the dynamic interactions between our genes and our environment.
Gene Limits Desire To Drink Alcohol
Research teams have identified a gene variant that suppresses the desire to drink alcohol.
'Lab on the Skin' for Sweat Analysis
Northwestern University researchers develop a low-cost wearable electronic device that collects and analyzes sweat for health monitoring.
Gut’s Microbial Community Influences Gene Expression
Study identifes gut microbes as mediators of host gene expression through the epigenome, regulating which genes are active in cells.
Novel Urine Test to Predict High-Risk Cervical Cancer
Preliminary studies affirm accuracy and potential cost savings to screen for virus-caused malignancy.
T Cell Channel Could Be Targeted to Treat Cancers
Researcher identify ion-channel found within T cells that could be targeted to reduce development of neck and head cancers.
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,300+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!