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UK Scientists Identify Gene's Key Role In Breast Cancer Development

Breakthrough Breast Cancer scientists have helped identify a critical role for a gene called Tip60 in breast cancer. The research, to be published in the scientific journal Nature on Thursday 30 August, shows for the first time that Tip60 is linked to breast cancer development, and is associated with more aggressive forms of the disease.

The team, at The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at The Institute of Cancer Research in London, studied the Tip60 gene in breast biopsies. They discovered that the activity of this gene is significantly lower in breast cancer tissue compared with normal breast tissue. This discovery could have important implications for how some breast cancers are treated in the future.

Breakthrough's scientists, collaborating with a team in Italy, found that defects in this gene seem to appear at an early stage of breast cancer development, and are associated with aggressive cancers that are currently difficult to treat. Tip60 is a tumour suppressor gene, which helps to hold the growth of cells in check, and protects their DNA. Reduced activity of Tip60 contributes to uncontrolled cell growth, which allows breast cancers to develop. Unusually, they found that the reduced levels of Tip60 were caused by only one faulty copy of the gene.

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