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Newly Discovered Gene Associated with Breast Cancer Outcomes

Posted Mar 24 2010 7:05am
The Holliday Junction Recognition Protein (HJURP) gene is a newly discovered gene that appears to interact with chromosomal DNA at the site of the centromere , a part of the chromosome important for proper cell division.  Previous research studies have suggested that the HJURP gene might be involved in cancer development, but little is known about its role in breast cancer.

A new breast cancer research study , which is free to download and read, examined the association between the HJURP gene and breast cancer characteristics.  To do this the investigators used various techniques to measure the level of the gene and its protein in primary breast cancer tissues and in breast cancer cell lines.  The results of this study showed
  • HJURP was elevated in 50% of breast cancer cell lines.
  • Invasive ductal carcinomas showed higher levels of the HJURP gene than normal ductal tissues.
  • Elevated HJURP levels were associated with estrogen receptor-negative status, progesterone receptor-negative status, advanced histological stage ( SBR Grade ), younger age, and increased cell growth.
  • Breast cancer patients whose tumors had high levels of HJURP had shorter disease-free survival and poorer overall survival.
Another interesting aspect of this study was that higher levels of this gene were also associated with breast cancer cells that were MORE sensitive to radiation therapy.  This suggests that radiation therapy might support better outcomes in patients with higher HJURP, though the overall outcomes appear to still be worse than patients with low levels of this gene. 

This is important information that might impact future breast cancer therapy.  By testing breast cancer biopsies for the presence of this gene, it might be possible for physicians to develop more targeted therapies that prevent the possible cancer-promoting actions of this gene in order to improve outcomes for these breast cancer patients.  

My book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer is a great way to start learning more about what you can do in the fight against breast cancer.  You can find it at .
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