Breast cancer biomarker may be buried in 'junk DNA'

It's becoming increasingly clear that what was once called "junk DNA" might not actually belong in the dustbin of genomic medicine. Researchers in Virginia have gone dumpster-diving into non-coded DNA and have come up with a possible biomarker that signals a heightened risk for breast cancer.

"We've become increasingly aware that non-coded DNA has an important function related to human disease," Michael Skinner of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center tells Daily Tech. "Replication of this study in another set of patients is needed, but the results indicate that this particular gene is an important one in breast cancer and they reveal more details about the expression of the gene. This kind of work could eventually result in the creation of a drug that would specifically interact with this gene to return expression levels to a normal range."

Researchers discovered that longer DNA sequences were found more often in patients with breast cancer. Between five and 21 copies of the specific repeated DNA sequence can be found in the control, or promoter, region of the receptor gamma (ERR-y) gene, and it was discovered that those with more than 13 copies have a heightened cancer susceptibility rate than those who have less than 13, according to Daily Tech.

Researchers are now working to translate the biomarker into a clinical setting.

- read the report in Daily Tech