New oncogene for breast cancer identified

Updated: Aug 14, 2012, 15:23 PM IST

Washington: Scientists have discovered a new oncogene that contributes to the development of breast cancer, paving the way for new treatment therapies that can inhibit the gene.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine identified a new oncogene named FAM83B responsible for development of breast cancer.

Oncogenes are genes which when mutated or expressed at high levels, make normal cells behave like cancer cells.

"We made our discovery in a model of breast cancer," Mark W Jackson, lead researcher said.

"Using an unbiased screening approach, we let the biology of cancer formation tell us what genes are important and FAM83B was one of the genes that came out of our screen.

When FAM83B was overproduced in normal breast cells, it transformed the normal cells, causing them to behave like breast cancer," Jackson said in a statement.

There are relatively few oncogenes that are critical to breast cancer growth, and only one other breast cancer oncogene has been identified in the last six years.

Breast cancers are classified clinically into subgroups based on the presence of specific proteins, including estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and HER2.

"Analysis of breast cancer revealed that elevated FAM83B expression is associated with the more aggressive, triple negative subgroup which lacks ER, PR and HER2," Jackson said.

"In short, patients with triple-negative breast cancer would benefit most from the development of new therapeutics," Jackson added.

"Our discovery provides the foundation for developing new therapies that can inhibit FAM83B in these aggressive cancers, which have traditionally been difficult to treat," Jackson said.

The study will be published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.