Breast Cancer Mutations Occur in Bursts in Early Tumor Development, Study Shows

Breast Cancer Mutations Occur in Bursts in Early Tumor Development, Study Shows
Mutations called copy number aberrations (CNAs) that drive the development of so-called triple negative breast cancer likely occur in short punctuated bursts at the earliest phases of tumor growth, according to the report, “Punctuated copy number evolution and clonal stasis in triple-negative breast cancer." Published in the journal Nature Genetics, the report challenges previous beliefs. The results advance the understanding of mechanisms that drive cancer development, and will likely improve molecular diagnostics and treatment of breast cancer. In breast cancer, as in many other cancer types, some cells start accumulating genetic mutations such as CNAs. But research had been limited because mutations are only studied at one time-point — after a tumor has been surgically removed. “The current model asserts CNAs are acquired gradually and sequentially over extended periods of time, leading to successively more malignant stages of cancer,” Nicholas Navin, PhD, professor of genetics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and senior author of the study, said in a news release. Navin's study instead supported an alternative theory. By developing a new method called highly multiplexed single-nucleus sequencing (HM-SNS) to investigate how this type of mutation arises, they gained insight into the evolution of mutations without sampling tumors at various time points. The method analyzes mutations in single cells. The team sequence
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