Scientists Reveal The Enzyme Responsible for the Mutations that Cause Breast Cancer
A new study that was recently published in the journal Nature, reveals the enzyme that is considered to be responsible for the majority of DNA mutations found in breast cancer. The research, which could represent a major breakthrough for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, was conducted by a team from the University of Minnesota, United States. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that originates from the breast tissue. While breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women, male breast cancer is also possible. Almost 23% of all women diagnosed with cancer suffer from a form of breast cancer.
The lead author of the paper, associate professor Reuben Harris, suggests that their discovery could lead to an improvement in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. In the near future, scientists could develop drugs that would have an inhibitory effect on these mutations, thus preventing them from spreading and provoking the onset of breast cancer. The enzyme that Harris and his team discovered is named APOBEC3B. The discovery was made after Harris’ team discovered that APOBEC3B and other enzymes are responsible for the protection against viruses such as HIV-1. Currently there are 7 known APOBEC3 genes. The research team led by Harris managed to quantify the expression of these enzymes, revealing that one of the enzymes, specifically APOBEC3B, is over-expressed in patients with breast cancer.
Precedent cancer studies have shown that DNA mutations are quintessential for the onset of cancer. The current study reveals that APOBEC3B is responsible for the genetic mutations of cancerous cells involved in breast cancer. However, although the enzyme protects cells from various viral infections, such as the infection with HIV-1, it is also responsible for the mutations that lead to cancer. The research team agrees that further studies are needed in order to confirm the connection between the enzyme and the onset of breast cancer. Should these studies provide enough evidence in the matter, it could lead to the possibility of breast cancer being diagnosed through a routine blood test.
Future goals of Harris’ research team include the investigation for method to block the expression of APOBEC3B in order to prevent the genetic mutations that are associated. Some of his work on HIV is already showing promise for such future drugs. According to Harris, his team is already searching for links between age, elevated levels of APOBEC3B and numerous other risk factors that are already associated with breast cancer.