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MSU Lands Komen Funding for Tumor Gene Studies

By Matt Jones

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Michigan State University has won a $450,000 grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation to conduct studies focused on gene expression in breast cancer tumors.

Because one of the most problematic aspects of breast cancer is the heterogeneity and genetic complexity of the tumors, which influences whether a tumor will or will not spread, this research will focus on tumor genetics, MSU said in a statement.

"When you look at a breast cancer tumor under the microscope, there are different patterns of cancer cells within that one tumor; it isn't necessarily uniform," MSU Assistant Professor and principal investigator Eran Andrechek said in a statement. "That is tumor heterogeneity, and that complexity is one of the major hurdles in treating and potentially preventing cancer. We need good models to study to overcome that."

This study will pursue three central objectives. First, the researchers plan to try to find out if human breast cancer heterogeneity can be duplicated in major mouse models that can be used to study human cases, and they will look at which genes are expressed in cancer tumors.

The team also will try to identify which genes are important in different types of tumors and lead to their spreading and progressing. In the third phase of the research, the scientists will use the knowledge gained about which models are suitable and which genetic pathways are most important to make predictions about therapy and to test its hypotheses.