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Breast Cancer Gene Ringleader Found

Gene, Called SATB1, Orders Other Breast Cancer Genes Into Action and Dims Anticancer Genes
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 12, 2008 -- Breast cancer experts have a new prime suspect among breast cancer genes, and that finding could lead to new breast cancer treatments.

The breast cancer gene in question, called SATB1, bosses other breast cancer genes and hushes anticancer genes.

The result: breast cancer grows and spreads aggressively when SATB1 is active. And when SATB2 is silenced, breast tumors slow down.

Those findings come from lab experiments done in test tubes and mice; further studies are needed in people.

To put SATB1's influence in perspective, the new lab tests show that switching off SATB1 affected more than 1,000 genes.

The researchers report that SATB1 isn't just active in advanced breast cancer; it may also be on the prowl in early-stage breast tumors, before cancer spreads from the breast to nearby lymph nodes.

In addition to being a potential target for new breast cancer treatments, SATB1 might predict the odds that early-stage breast cancer will spread, according to the researchers.

They included Hye-Jung Han, PhD, and Terumi Kohwi-Shigematsu, PhD, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

The study appears in the March 13 edition of Nature.

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