Oestrogen binding patterns 'could signal breast cancer relapse'

5 January 2012

The binding of the female hormone oestrogen to different parts of the genome in breast cancer patients could signal those who are more likely to relapse in the future.

Researchers at Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Research Institute have found that the female sex hormone attaches to a different part of DNA, which could have an effect on the methods of treatment conventionally used.

The scientists discovered that the protein FOXA1 redirects the oestrogen receptor (ER) and causes the irregular reattachment.

However, the findings published in the journal Nature point out that treatments used to block FOXA1 proteins could help patients who do not respond to usual cancer treatment drugs such as tamoxifen.

Cancer Research UK's Dr Jason Carroll, who led the study with Professor Carlos Caldas, said: "These findings suggest that ER binds to different regions of the genome DNA in breast cancer patients that respond to treatment, compared to those that relapse and whose cancer spreads."

The charity recently reported that the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres  network, which runs UK clinical studies of the newest cancer treatments, was awarded £35 million in funding for research and trials over the next five years.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Ross-Innes et al., "Differential oestrogen receptor binding is associated with clinical outcome in breast cancer (2012)", Nature, January 2012


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