Genetic mutations previously considered to be inactive ‘passengers’ in breast cancer genomes may have a role in driving the development of cancer.

Monday 23 January 2017      Research
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Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have shown that genetic mutations previously considered to be inactive ‘passengers’ in breast cancer genomes may have a role in driving the development of cancer, in a new study published today in Nature Genetics.

Studying the whole DNA sequence of 560 breast tumours, the researchers found that ‘tandem duplications’ are often focused in areas of the DNA that are already known to be involved in breast cancer, suggesting that these mutations can lead to the disease developing or progressing.

Dr Richard Berks, Senior Research Communications Officer at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“This detailed DNA study improves our understanding of one of the processes which could be helping breast cancer develop and progress.

“The researchers have shown that mutations known as ‘tandem duplications’ could be much more important in the development of breast cancer than previously thought.

“If further work can uncover exactly what is causing these genetic mutations, it may even be possible to develop drugs to target this process, either to try to prevent the disease or halt its progression.”