This Australian breast cancer breakthrough could change everything

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer. Leaps and bounds are being made in diagnosis and treatment and hopefully, in the not too distant future, fewer families will lose their grandmothers, mums, sisters, daughters and partners to this disease.

Now there’s some great news from Melbourne, where researchers have discovered a genetic trigger for breast cancer. The breakthrough will help predict the spread of the disease and allow more targeted treatment, as reported by the ABC.

The research team, from Monash University, has won an international race to identify the gene, called PIPP, and the findings were published today in the US journal Cancer Cell.

PhD student Lauren Binge has a strong family history of breast cancer and sadly lost her grandmother to the disease. That was the motivation for her to start the research. Her interest lay in the molecular mechanism of how a cell goes from a normal cell to a cancer cell.

The team identified the tumour suppressant protein that could potentially be screened in cancer patients, making it possible to target therapies to them for really aggressive cancers.  The research shows that if breast cancer patients do not have the PIPP gene, their prognosis is worse.

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Ms Binge handed her research over to Dr Lisa Ooms, the author of the study published today.

The Australian researchers have beaten US and European labs to the world-first finding.

With 47 Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer daily, the discovery will make the spread of their cancer more predictable and treatment more targeted, but clinical use is 5 to 10 years away.

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