Identification of the genes that promote breast cancer growth is a very slow process and only one gene per year is found. Researchers from Canada say they have identified 153 more genes that promote breast cancer growth. They used data from the Human Genome Project to engineer a microchip that has about 19,000 pieces of genes on them and then they have narrowed down where the estrogen receptor was in the genome of breast cancer cells, and identified a large number of genes that responded to this hormone.
They have discover one important gene, and named it FOXA1, which was needed for the estrogen receptor to activate the growth of breast cancer cells. They think that if they inactive this gene, they will be able to stop the cancer cells from growing.
They are about to do some tests on animal models to see if inactivation of the gene will interrupt the cancer cell growth and are hoping to develop a drug that would turn off FOXA1 but not to affect other important estrogen actions.
The work is off course still preliminary and they have to make sure that this treatment will be better that the current one.