A step closer to personalised breast cancer treatments


Research scientists from Cardiff University have stated that they are a step closer to personalised breast cancer treatment plans.

The scientists made use of gene technology in a bid to compare certain genetic errors in specific types of breast cells in mice. They succeeded in replicating ‘almost the entire spectrum’ of an aggressive form of breast cancer from one particular type of cell.

This has aided them in understanding the disease which comes in a minimum of 10 different forms.

Matt Smalley at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute at Cardiff University led the research and the tests were conducted with colleagues from the UK, Brazil and Spain.

He stated that the research involved using a genetic ‘trick’ in a bid to study how a single genetic error was able to manifest in two different cell types and what would happen if different errors were placed in a single cell type.

This led the research team to discover that there is one cell type in the breast tissue that is linked to the most aggressive form of the disease in humans.

The researchers commenced a part of the study by creating the same genetic error in two cell types. In another section of the test they created different errors in one cell type. They found that some cancers which formed in one particular cell type resembled the most common breast cancer types found in humans.

According to Dr Smalley the cell type responded to normal menstruation cycles, as well as to pregnancy hormones, by dividing in an attempt to create the extra cells that are required for breastfeeding.

The scientists are of the opinion that breast cancer commences when the cells go awry and start dividing at the wrong time.

The results that have been achieved add to the understanding that scientists have regarding the origins of the diversity of breast cancer. It also emphasises the need to understand the mechanisms of this particular cell type in order to better understand the process of development of breast cancer.

These results have placed scientists closer to personalisation of breast cancer medication as they will know if a specific drug is suitable for a particular breast cancer type.

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