New research may explain how the BRCA1 breast cancer gene does its damage. Researcher think the gene, which has been linked to most, but not all, cases of triple-negative cancer, may mutate because of a break in another gene that stops cell growth. Women inherit BRCA1 and may also inherit its tendency to weaken the PTEN gene, which can help suppress tumor growth, according to researchers at Columbia University, working with scientists at Sweden’s Lund University.
In 30 to 50 percent of BRCA1 tumors, the PTEN gene is physically broken in half.
What does this mean? It explains, once again, that not all cancers are created equal, and even some forms of triple-negative have a different genetic makeup. Drugs now being developed can help activate PTEN, which may not lead to a cure, but offer an option for treatment now not available to women with this form of the disease, often called basal-like breast cancer (BBC).
The scientists presented their findings in the December issue of Nature Genetics
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