Experts Expect Gene Sequencing to Accelerate Breast Cancer Cure

When Craig Venter announced he had sequenced the human genome 10 years ago, the scientific community was abuzz with the greater implications of analyzing genomes. Oncologists were curious about how this technology would eventually impact the treatment of cancer. Now the answer is becoming more clear – and the impact is enormous.

In a landmark paper published recently in Nature (and reported in the New York Times), gene experts have announced a comprehensive analysis and gene sequencing of over 500 breast cancers. Just in time for October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What does this mean for breast cancer patients and the future of breast cancer treatment?

Analysis already has shown implications for more effective therapy and for understanding common links between breast and ovarian cancer. Many of the mutations found are already targets of new drug development.  The genetic similarity of some tumors to AML or ovarian cancer suggests new therapeutic approaches as well.  No single new treatment has evolved, but it is likely that we will see an entirely new and more rational way of treating first breast, then all cancer, very quickly.

In 2001 the Human Genome Project, funded by the NIH, and Celera, a private company led by Craig Venter announced that the complete human genome had been sequenced.  A triumph of technology, this achievement had no practical use at first.

The complete sequencing of human breast tumors heralds the dawn of a new era in our understanding of cancer.  Perhaps most astounding is the fact that we are beginning to see a payoff from the work of the Human Genome Project only a decade after work began.

Source: “Taking Gene Sequencing to the Next Level”
James J. Stark, MD, FACP, is the founder of Stark Oncology Consulting, a venture designed to assist individuals and companies seeking expert testimony and medical consultation related to oncology. Dr. Stark founded Stark Oncology Consulting in 2011 after serving more than three decades as a medical practitioner.

Note: “Comprehensive Molecular Portraits of Human Breast Tumors” was published the online edition of Nature by the Cancer Genome Atlas Network.

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