Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

An international team of researchers has used a combination of genomic and gene expression analyses to identify 10 subtypes of breast cancer, each of which is typified by certain genetic aberrations. The classification of cancers can help researchers and doctors better understand patients’ responses to different therapeutics as well as prioritize drug design efforts for the most deadly of molecular disruptions.

The largely Canadian and UK team studied nearly 2000 breast tumor specimens from patients whose medical conditions were tracked for as many as 20 years after the specimens were taken. The researchers analyzed the genome sequences and gene expression levels of the tumors using DNA hybridization technology to examine changes in chromosomal architecture known as “copy number aberrations.” Breast cancer exhibits many of these structural changes–abnormal repetitions of chunks of chromosomes that can greatly alter the molecular landscape of a cell. 

The researchers also identified molecular changes within some of the subtypes that could one day help doctors decide how to best treat an individual’s particular tumor type. Some clinics are already using DNA analysis to “personalize” cancer treatments and studies like this can focus doctors and drug companies on the most effective molecular targets for treatment or R&D.

The team is currently sequencing the genomes of some of the specimens, says Samuel Aparicio, a physician and cancer geneticist the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre in Vancouver. “We need the full mutational framework for breast cancers,” he says, referring to the more complete picture that whole-genome sequencing will provide. What the team learned in this study could help “shortcut some of the framework building by directing our attention to specific groups,” he says.

3 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Biomedicine

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me