January 8, 2009 - A newly identified gene, called metadherin, might cause breast cancer tumors to spread and become resistant to chemotherapy, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Cell.
The study found that many copies of metadherin were present in a large percentage of aggressive and deadly cancers. Unlike recent developments related to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer, the new gene is not expected to aid doctors in preventing cancer from developing but help predict whether the patient's breast cancer is likely to spread and kill.
Metadherin is "overrepresented" in 30 to 40 percent of the breast cancer patients studied, according to Yibin Kang, assistant professor of molecular biology at Princeton University. The gene makes tumor cells "sticky," allowing them to adhere to blood vessels in various organs and penetrate surrounding tissue.
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