Aggressive Breast Cancer Gene Discovered: Oncogene ZNF703

British and Canadian researchers have identified an oncogene that is responsible for a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. According to the report, the oncogene ZNF703 - onco meaning tumor or mass - becomes active in one out of 12 breast cancers.

The Cambridge Research Institute of Cancer Research UK and the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada looked at gene activity in 1,172 breast tumor samples, in addition to breast cancer cells grown in the lab.  Through a process of elimination, they found only one gene that was overactive, and that was on chromosome 8 - the ZNF703 gene.

When an oncogene becomes overactive all of its cells begin dividing rapidly, as do all of its offspring, and so on... so much so that healthy cells cannot fight back.  BBC News describes the process as being like a car's accelerator stuck in the down position.

The ZNF703 is the first oncogene discovered in five years.  Its identification has made researchers very positive about finding a medication that will target it in the future.  Her2 was the last oncogene found for breast cancer and the drug Herceptin was developed to treat it.


sources: BBC News via USNews  See the full research report at EMBA Molecular Medicine.