Genetic cause of common breast tumors in women

Posted Jul 20, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Singapore scientists have discovered the genetic cause of common breast tumors in women. The study was led by researchers from the National Cancer Centre Singapore, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.
Cervical gland showing an area of high grade epithelial dysplasia (CIN3). Asymptomatic patient  biop...
Cervical gland showing an area of high grade epithelial dysplasia (CIN3). Asymptomatic patient, biopsy taken after a routine PAP smear was found to be abnormal.
Wikimedia Commons/Haymanj
Researchers have made a breakthrough in understanding the molecular basis of fibroadenoma, one of the most common breast tumors diagnosed in women. Frequently discovered in clinical workups for breast cancer diagnosis and during routine breast cancer screening, clinicians often face of challenge of distinguishing fibroadenomas (lumps composed of fibrous and glandular tissue) from other forms of breast cancer.
For the study scientists used advanced DNA sequencing technologies to identify a critical gene called MED12 that was repeatedly disrupted in nearly sixty percent of fibroadenoma cases. The research shows that common diseases have a very exact genetic basis.
The team's findings, Medical Express reports, have also furthered understanding of how tumors can develop. Like most breast tumors, fibroadenomas consist of a mixed population of different cell types, called epithelial cells and stromal cells. However, unlike breast cancers where the genetic abnormalities arise from the epithelial cells, the scientists, using a technique called laser capture microdissection (LCM), showed that the MED12 mutations in fibroadenomas are found in the stromal cells. Therefore, targeting such stromal cells may be an important avenue for therapy in the future.
The research was led by Professors Teh Bin Tean, Patrick Tan, Tan Puay Hoon and Steve Rozen. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Genetics.