Australian researchers discover ‘genetic switch’ for breast cancer

Australian researchers have discovered a "genetic switch" that can make breast cancer cells more responsive to different kinds of treatments. The switch allows scientists to change breast cancer cells and make them more responsive to treatments, such as anti-oestrogen therapies.

Researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney found that the molecule known as ELF5 can turn genes on or off, The Age reported. By manipulating the molecule, the breast cancer cell's sensitivity to anti-oestrogen drugs used to treat breast cancer can be increased.

"We've made a discovery that concerns the basic biology of breast cancer. ELF5 determines if cells will respond to oestrogen therapy or not," said Professor Chris Ormandy. Oestrogen plays a key role in breast cancers.

The finding establishes for the first time that there is a link between the molecule and breast cancer, the report said. Found in all breast cells, the molecule was discovered by Ormandy's team in 1999.

The latest discovery raises the potential for developing a new drugs designed to reduce the amount of the molecule in cancer cells dependent on ELF5 for their proliferation.

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