According to a US study published in Nature a gene has been identified that is linked to 70 % of the hard-to-treat breast cancers i.e. those that are resistant to hormone therapies. Many breast cancers are promoted by the presence of certain hormones, which is why the treatments used for these forms of cancer are drugs such as the aromatase inhibitors that interfere with the hormone itself. However, in a third of patients these drugs simply do not work, and therefore the identification of the associated gene (called PHGDH) along with information on how actively it is genetically expressed has potential significance as both a target for therapy and as a diagnostic marker.
The PHGDH gene is involved with the production of the amino acid, serine and is also associated with ‘ cell change’. The authors state that this is still early work, however, they say that the technological advances that is now allowing rapid gene sequencing in target cells is shedding useful light on the apparent causes of these cancers, and therefore potential targets for new treatments.