A recent report published in the Nature journal talks about the identification of four types of breast cancer. This finding completely reformats the understanding that scientists have of breast cancer. How is this information useful? Well, scientists now will give impetus to tailor make medicines and treatments, as per the specific breast cancer type.
This study published in Nature is of particular significance since this is the first of such all-inclusive genetic analysis of a cancer, whose mortality rate in US alone is 35,000 women per year. Dr. Matthew Ellis of Washington University and a researcher for the study told NY Times,
This is the road map for how we might cure breast cancer in the future.
Though, it will be quite some time before this new insight can result in transforming the treatment procedure, but, yes, like any new understanding, this is some bit of news which adds hope that treatment procedure will get more fine-tuned in the years to come.
825 breast cancer patients were analyzed for this study. One of the startling finds by investigators was the presence of about 40 genetic modifications that drugs could attack. Amazingly, numerous such modifications are already being developed for same mutations, but for different types of cancer. Joe Gray, a genetic expert at Oregon Health & Science University, told NY Times,
We now have a good view of what goes wrong in breast cancer. We haven’t had that before.
No wonder researchers are considering this to be a spectacular new find!
So, what are the four different types of breast cancer? They are, basal-like cancers, luminal A and B cancers and the HER2-enriched.
HER2, is that extra copy of the gene, which is present in breast cancers and it is this gene which causes the growth to speed up. Herceptin is one such drug, which can block the HER2 gene. Readers will be happy to know, that it is due to the use of the drug Herceptin, that there has been a marked improvement in the diagnosis of this form of breast cancer. But it is really not roses all the way, since this drug apart from being expensive can trigger heart damage too.
While the cure and diagnosis possibilities of what this new discovery could lead to, are many, one has to wait it out for successful clinical trials to be sure that indeed the drugs that can block genetic abnormalities can successfully put an end to the cancer too. Patience is what is needed, for the time being.
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