Could methylation change breast cancer treatment?

12 July 2012

Medical professionals could soon have a better means of treating breast cancer, through the development of a molecular 'post-it note'.

Cancer Research UK scientists based at Imperial College London have shown that when the element is added to a breast cancer gene, it can help to flag up the risk of the disease spreading around the body.

In order to identify this procedure, the researchers first detailed how high levels of a molecular modification called methylation are linked to the spread of breast cancer when coming into contact with a gene entitled CACNA2D3.

Dr Carlo Palmieri, the study's lead author, commented: "Our research suggests that methyl groups can muffle the messages given by the CACNA2D3 gene - blocking its potential protective effect against breast cancer."

He added that the next step will be to carry out larger studies in order to determine whether methylation could be the key to more advanced breast cancer treatment.

Recently, a separate study led by Nicholas Eriksson, principal scientist at the direct-to-consumer personal genomics company 23andMe, has suggested that women with larger breasts are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Posted by Jeanette Royston


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