Gene Reverts Cancer Genes To Normal, Predicts Breast Cancer Prognosis

Armen Hareyan's picture
Advertisement

Breast Cancer Prognosis Prediction

Scientists at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have shown that the activity of a gene that commandeers other cancer-causing genes, returning them to normal, can predict the prognosis of an individual with breast cancer.

The gene, Dachshund, normally regulates eye development and development of other tissues, in essence playing a role in determining the fate of some types of cells. Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson and professor and chair of cancer biology at Jefferson Medical College, and co-workers looked at cancer cells from more than 2,000 breast cancer patients and found that this commandeering or "organizing" ability is increasingly lost in cancer cells and associated with the progression of disease. The more the gene is expressed in breast cancer, the researchers saw, the better the patient did. The scientists report their findings in October in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Advertisement

"This is a new type of gene in cancer that commandeers the cancerous genes and returns them to normal," says Dr. Pestell. "The standard cancer treatment strategy has been to block the proliferation of cancer cells or cause them to die. This is quite different. We've shown that the Dachshund gene reverts the cancerous phenotype and turns the cell back to a pre-malignant state. Cells don't die, but rather, they revert.

"It's a bad prognostic feature if you lose this organizer gene," he says, adding that it could be used as a prognostic marker for breast cancer.

In the work, the researchers showed that Dachshund could block breast cancer growth in mice and also could halt breast cancer from invading other tissues in cell culture. They also found that the gene inhibits the expression of the cyclin D1 gene, a cancer-causing gene that is overexpressed in about half of all breast cancers.

The group used microarray technology

Advertisement