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Researchers identify new kind of breast tumor

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have uncovered a new mutation in breast cancer tumors. This new piece of information may shed light on future treatments for breast cancer patients.

Another kind tumor

While the news of another kind of tumor may be disheartening, researchers say they have to know what they are dealing with to begin creating treatments.

Oncologists currently recognize three basic types of breast tumors — estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive, HER2-positive, and triple negative.

“But breast cancer is much more complex than indicated by these three subtypes, and one of the challenges of treating the disease is to identify gene markers that predict how a tumor will respond to a specific treatment,” says senior investigator Edith Perez , deputy director of the Mayo Clinic comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida and director of the Breast Cancer Translational Genomics Program, which involves researchers at all three Mayo Clinic campuses.

“The discovery of subtype-specific fusion transcripts in breast cancer represents a step in this direction,” she says. “Our findings indicate that fusion transcripts are much more common in breast cancer than had been realized. They represent a new class of mutation whose role in breast cancer is not understood at all.”

This newly identified tumor is called fusion transcripts, which happens when chromosomes break apart.

The potential for further studies

“This is a novel discovery that will now require additional investigation,” says E. Aubrey Thompson, Ph.D. professor of Biology at Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, and co-director of the Breast Cancer Translational Genomics Program.. “We need to understand what these fusion transcripts and proteins are doing.”

Fusion transcripts have been found in some blood cancers and could provide insight into how a cancerous tumor grows. Further studies will look into how these cells interact with the tumor.