Public Release: 

Analysis of breast and colon cancer genes finds many areas of differences between tumors

University Hospitals of Cleveland

Researchers from University Hospitals (UH) Ireland Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine are part of a new national study that has analyzed more than 18,000 genes, including 5,000 previously unmapped genes, from breast and colorectal tumors. The study, published online by the journal Science on Oct. 11, shows a great number of genetic differences between breast and colon cancer tumors, leading the researchers to conclude that new drugs must be developed that can hit these newly identified genetic targets in a manner specific to each different individual's tumor.

Sanford Markowitz, M.D., Ph.D., the Ingalls Professor of Cancer Research at the UH Ireland Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University, said, "The new insights gained are important in that they indicate there is great genetic diversity from one tumor to the next. Only a handful of genes are common targets for damage, and it will accordingly be necessary to develop a panel of drugs that target specific mutant genes in order to be able to provide individualized cancer treatment to different individual patients."

These results also have potential for tumor diagnosis, according to the researchers.


The UH Ireland Cancer Center/Case Western Reserve University researchers have been partners in all of the colon cancer work in this study, with patients from University Hospitals providing all of the colon cancer tumors used in the study.

More than a dozen research institutions were involved with this study. Dr. Markowitz is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Other researchers from UH and Case Western Reserve University are Joseph Willis, M.D., associate professor of pathology, and Dawn Dawson, M.D., assistant professor of pathology.

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