Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Comprehensive View of Breast Cancer Reveals New Insights

Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012
Bookmark and Share
New research suggests that Basal-like breast cancer is genetically distinct from other breast cancer subtypes.

At first glance, the two tumor subtypes seem to have little in common: one takes root in the ovaries and the other, in breast tissue.

Conventionally, tumors like these are referred to by their organ of origin and other basic characteristics such as the cell type that spawned them.

But through projects like The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), researchers from the Broad Institute and elsewhere are taking a deeper look at cancer’s many forms and finding genomic similarities that cut across these classifications, as well as great diversity within single classes of cancer.

In a paper published online Sunday in Nature, the TCGA network describes discoveries gleaned from characterizing samples from 825 breast cancer patients.

Breast cancer is a diverse disease with four primary subtypes. The new research suggests that one of these subtypes - Basal-like breast cancer -is genetically distinct from other breast cancer subtypes, but shares many molecular characteristics with high-grade serous ovarian cancer, a form of cancer that is also notoriously difficult to treat.

“The underlying genomic alterations in Basal-breast cancer were different than they were in the other breast cancer subtypes,” said Andrew Cherniack, a research scientist in the Broad’s Cancer Program and an author of the paper. “Molecularly, it’s a different disease.”

The Broad Genomic Characterization Center, led by Matthew Meyerson and Stacey Gabriel, provides all genomic copy number data for the entire TCGA.

In cancer, large pieces of DNA can get amplified (copied and pasted multiple times) or deleted, resulting in distorted genomic function.

Copy number analysis allows researchers to detect these large additions and subtractions. This analysis, along with other lines of evidence, helped the team see how distinct Basal-breast cancer was from other forms of the disease and to discover its similarity to high-grade serous ovarian cancer, which was characterized in depth by the TCGA last year.

In addition to processing and analyzing samples sent to the Broad, researchers at the Broad oversee the system known as Firehose, which is used to analyze all of the TCGA data generated not only at the Broad but also at the other TCGA centers.

Gad Getz, the director of Cancer Genome Computational Analysis at the Broad, and his team developed Firehose, which incorporates tools developed by several groups including those from the Broad, such as the software package GenePattern.

“With a dozen centers involved in the TCGA project, tools like Firehose can help us coordinate and consolidate data analysis,” said Gordon Saksena, a senior software engineer in Getz’s group and an author of the paper.

Saksena continued, “It’s great to have this much data for testing, refining, and improving our models. And, with so many samples, we can identify more genes that appear to be under positive selection within the tumor, and thus worthy of further study.”

In addition to breast cancer and ovarian cancer, the TCGA has also published analyses on glioblastoma multiforme, colorectal adenocarcinoma, and lung squamous cell carcinoma.

“As we work on more TCGA projects, we can begin to make associations among subgroups of different types of cancer,” said Getz. “These are the kinds of connections that we would never have been able to make without this level of genetic detail or this quantity of samples.”

Mike Noble, a software engineering manager in Getz’s group and an author of the breast cancer paper, describes the work of the TCGA as creating maps, and likens the first major papers from the TCGA on each of form of cancer as markers along a trail.

"These marker papers we've published on brain, breast, and lung cancer are like the first sign posts erected along trails that will be blazed with these maps," said Noble.

Noble continued, "And it's really just the beginning: once you establish your map, you start building your roads, you build your signposts, and then everyone wants to start traveling."

Further Information
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 2,700+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ 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 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.

Scientific News
Gene Editing Could Enable Pig-To-Human Organ Transplant
The largest number of simultaneous gene edits ever accomplished in the genome could help bridge the gap between organ transplant scarcity and the countless patients who need them.
Antioxidants Cause Malignant Melanoma to Metastasize Faster
Fresh research at Sahlgrenska Academy has found that antioxidants can double the rate of melanoma metastasis in mice.
Have Your Drug Nano-Delivered Via Microbubble
A UC engineering professor is working to develop effective nanoparticle-bubble drug delivery systems to access precise locations in the body to treat medical conditions such as cancer, eye disease and spinal disc degeneration.
Potential New Diagnosis and Therapy for Breast Cancer
Scientists at the University of York, using clinical specimens from charity Breast Cancer Now’s Tissue Bank, have conducted new research into a specific sodium channel that indicates the presence of cancer cells and affects tumour growth rates.
Paving the Way for Diamonds to Trace Early Cancers
Researchers from the University of Sydney reveal how nanoscale 'diamonds' can light up early-stage cancers in MRI scans.
Researchers Develop Classification Model for Cancers Caused by KRAS
Most frequently mutated cancer gene help oncologists choose more effective cancer therapies.
Tolerant Immune System Increases Cancer Risk
Researchers have found that individuals with high immunoCRIT ratios may have an increased risk of developing certain cancers.
Developing a Gel that Mimics Human Breast for Cancer Research
Scientists at the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham have been funded to develop a gel that will match many of the biological structures of human breast tissue, to advance cancer research and reduce animal testing.
New Gene Therapy for Vision Loss From a Mitochondrial Disease
NIH-funded study shows success in targeting mitochondrial DNA in mice.
Predictive Model for Breast Cancer Progression
Biomedical engineers have demonstrated a proof-of-principle technique that could give women and their oncologists more personalized information to help them choose options for treating breast cancer.

Skyscraper Banner
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
2,700+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos