Cancer research scientists at the Mayo Clinic have discovered a new molecular mutation in different forms of breast cancer. This information may shed new light on the ways in which solid breast tumors grow and develop. The mutations are called fusion transcripts and are small mutated forms of ribonucleic acid which is also known as RNA. The new information recently uncovered may provide new ways in which to identify tumor subtypes and eventually lead to new ways in which to attack and treat them.
The information was recently published in Cancer Research. The research project was the first to undertake the systematic search for these special cellular transcripts and fusion genes which are linked to different kinds of solid breast tumors.
At the present time, oncologists know about three different basic kinds of breast tumors. Breast tumors are classified as being either ER or estrogren-receptor positive, HER2-positive or triple negative. All oncologists understand, however, that breast cancer is significantly more complicated than these three categories alone would seem to indicate. The new study discovered that fusion transcripts occur much more frequently in breast cancer than had been previously thought. While this finding is significant, the role that these mutations play in breast cancer is not yet understood at all and more research will need to be conducted.
Scientists do know, though, that these changes in RNA produce proteins which aid in tumor development and growth and that they have profound effects on their sensitivity to chemotherapy treatment. Having this new bit of information may eventually lead to the development of new ways to attack breast cancer in women which kills approximately 41,000 women in the United Sates alone each year.
Fusion transcripts occur when chromosomes split apart then recombine
Fusion transcripts occur when chromosomes split apart and then recombine. This event happens frequently in cancer cells and is thought to be part of the process that renders cells cancerous to begin with. As the two parts of the normal gene recombine, the fusion transcript is created and the fusion proteins are created. Fusion transcripts can be thought of as genetic mistakes. Once the fusion transcript has been created, the new, mutated proteins may contain cancer promoting functions or they may simply interfere with other normal cellular functions.
Fusion transcripts occur commonly in many blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma. Until this new discovery was made, however, they had not been found in solid cancers like breast tumors.
Fusion transcripts are ideal biomarkers
These fusion genes, fusion transcripts and proteins are usually only found in solid tumors and they are ideal biomarkers. The transcripts may indicate specific regions where localized chromosomal instability is occurring and may be linked to the way in which breast cancer grows. Because of this, the scientists believe that new drugs will be able to be developed to specifically target these transcripts.
If you are interested in learning more about the new ways that oncologists will soon be classifying breast tumor, information on the subject can be found in this New
By Sari Crossman