Unravelling the molecular genetic traits of breast cancer
06 August 2007 - Originally it was believed that breast cancer was a single disease; the different microscopic patterns observed represented the different stages of its evolution. However, this view has changed over the past decade and it has become apparent that breast cancer has a widely heterogeneous nature with a variety of clinical behaviours, many of which require different management practices.
Jorge Reis-Filho, Team Leader of the Molecular Pathology Team in the Breakthrough Toby Robins Breast Cancer Research Centre, explains that through using a combination of traditional pathology methods and Institute-developed high-throughput technologies, his team is better able to study the distinct genetic changes in breast cancer precursors and specific types of breast cancers. "After identifying FGFR1 and EGFR as a potential therapeutic targets for specific subgroups of breast cancers, we aim to identify more novel therapeutic targets specific to each entity which could be used to target breast cancer in the precursor stages, thus preventing the development of invasive disease, and to tailor therapy for specific subgroups of breast cancer patients."
Dr Reis-Filho believes that by combining pathology and genetics it is possible to unravel the complexity of breast cancers and refine the current classification system. "With the identification of more homogeneous subgroups of patients, we can identify the molecular drivers of tumour growth and progression and, therefore, of therapeutic targets in cancer," he concludes.
Read more about Dr Reis-Filho's work in The Institute's Annual Research Report 2006.
Find out more about Dr Reis-Filho's research