Oncogene for aggressive breast cancer identified

March 3, 2011

British and Canadian researchers have discovered a gene, ZNF703, that can cause an aggressive form of breast cancer. The gene is overactive in approximately 1 in 12 breast cancers.

British and Canadian researchers have discovered a gene, ZNF703, that can cause an aggressive form of breast cancer. The gene is overactive in approximately 1 in 12 breast cancers.

By examining gene activity in 1,172 tumor samples and laboratory-grown breast cancer cells, investigators from Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute and the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, eliminated genes until only the ZNF703 gene remained within a region on chromosome 8 that was overactive in all test samples. In 2 patients, it was the only overactive gene, indicating that it was driving growth of the cancer.

Researchers suggest that this discovery might lead to development of new breast cancer drugs that target tumors in which overactivity of ZNF703 is detected.

The study was published online January 31 in EMBO Molecular Medicine.