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Study reveals magnitude of variation in gene expression measurements within breast cancers
Date:5/2/2013

Lugano-CH, Brussels- BE, 2 May 2013 -- An important new study has revealed the clearest picture yet of precisely how much measurement variation influences gene expression profiles of breast cancer.

The results show, for the first time, which gene expression measurements may benefit from pooling of biopsies from a single tumour, researchers said at the 5th IMPAKT Breast Cancer Conference in Brussels, Belgium.

These findings represent an important step toward allowing doctors to more precisely tailor an individual's treatment to a detailed analysis of their tumour's gene expression.

Over recent years, scientists have identified many genes, and groups of genes, that can provide crucial information about how an individual patient's cancer will respond to treatment with different drugs.

But a number of hurdles need to be cleared before tests to measure the expression of these genes can be used in clinical situations.

One important challenge is the fact that many different cell types can be present within a single tumour (known as intratumoural heterogeneity), each with different patterns of gene expression and potentially different sensitivity to drugs.

"Performing these tests with a single biopsy may or may not accurately represent that cancer, depending on intratumoural heterogeneity," explains lead author Dr Rosanna Lau from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, US.

A further complication is that some of the variation between test results can arise from technical variations in the testing process, and not by real differences between samples (analytical variance).

To differentiate between these sources of variation in breast cancer, Dr Lau and colleagues performed DNA microarray analysis on three biopsies each from 51 breast cancers.

"Our results indicate that analytical variance, resulting from technical aspects of the assay, can be dramatically reduced by standard dat
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Contact: Vanessa Pavinato
media@esmo.org
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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