BEIJING, June 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Scientists have
discovered a breast cancer gene 30 to 40 percent of all breast cancers need to
survive, offering what could be the biggest gene target yet for "smart bombs" to
treat these tumors.
The research was to be published
today in the journal Cell.
"If there's a 10 percent chance that this leads to a
treatment for breast cancers that's going to be effective for 30 percent of
women, in our way of measuring things that's a big advance." says Dr. Steven
Narod, a University of Toronto professor and co-author of the original paper
that identified the BRCA1 gene.
Researchers say the gene is needed for survival by 30
percent to 40 percent of all breast cancers, and could present the biggest gene
target yet for "smart bombs" to treat these tumors.
Herceptin, considered the largest breakthrough for
breast cancer in the past 15 years, and Gleevec, a drug that has revolutionized
the treatment of leukemia and some gastrointestinal tumors, also work by
shutting down a single mutant gene.
This gene is different from the breast-cancer
susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, which women are born with.
Women who inherit mutated forms of those genes are at
increased risk of developing breast cancer earlier in life.
In this case women are born with a healthy version of
the new gene, dubbed IKBKE, but a mutation occurs during life that causes it to
churn out too many copies of itself in breast cells, but nowhere else in her
The new breast cancer gene "plays a crucial role in
the formation and survival of tumors," Hahn said.