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Even More Complex


A study published in Nature in April made headlines since its authors concluded that breast cancer's genomic and transcriptomic landscape is so varied that it should really be classified as 10 distinct diseases. A new study published in Nature describes the mutational landscape of breast cancer in great detail, reports the UK Press Association. The researchers described nine new breast cancer oncogenes, bringing the total number of known breast cancer oncogenes to 40, and most of the tumors the team studied had different combinations of driver mutations. Team leader Mike Stratton, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, tells the Press Association that in 28 samples, there was only one driver mutation, and that the maximum number the team found in an individual case was six. "We found that breast cancer can be caused by more than 70 different combinations of mutations," Stratton adds. "If we consider three breast cancers, each with four driver mutations: they might share none of those driver mutations — so each is a different genetic 'animal'. They are different cancers driven by different genes. We need to classify them as carefully as we can. This study is a step towards that goal."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.