Key Influencer in Breast Cancer Discovered

First Posted: Feb 07, 2013 03:41 AM EST

A recent discovery paves the way for better methods of diagnosing and treating breast cancer. Researchers from the University of Minnesota have discovered a new enzyme that is the key influencer in breast cancer and possible other cancers as well.

Led by researcher Reuben Harris and his colleagues, the team has discovered a human enzyme that is responsible for the DNA mutations that causes cancer to develop. It is one of the proteins known as 'APOBEC3B' that triggers up to half of the mutations in breast cancer.

According to Harris, this finding is a perfect example of enzyme-induced mutations in human cancer. Next, the team aims to find out how early APOBEC3B begins contributing to mutation in breast cancer, and looking for proper measures to restrain the growth of these mutations.

Through their study, the team provided ample evidence to indicate that APOBEC3B is a source of mutation in breast cancer. APOBEC3B belongs to a family of enzymes known as APOBECs

They found a great number of APOBEC3B in many breast cancer cell lines and fresh breast tumor cells and by disabling the gene for APOBEC3B in the breast cancer cell lines, the number of mutations occurring reduced.

Harris came up with this discovery during his initial research on HIV. He says that APOBEC3B is a double-edged sword, as it guards some cells from viruses such as HIV and at the same time it produces mutations, thereby increasing the chances of cancer.

He concludes saying, "We are confident that our breakthrough will trigger a domino effect of additional research and clinical studies that result in better outcomes for patients with breast cancer."

The study was published in the journal Nature

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