Mayo Clinic researchers have compiled a set of common genetic variants that they say contribute to a person’s risk for developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer is a disease that, while potentially deadly, is highly treatable when detected in its earlier stages. Early detection is not only contingent on regular screening, but on a proper understanding of genetic factors that contribute to the disease’s development.
According to the American Cancer Society, estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2015 are:
- About 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 60,290 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 40,290 women will die from breast cancer.
A recent study led by researchers at the Mayo Clinic combines 77 common genetic variants into a single risk factor to help identify women with an elevated risk of breast cancer.
Using the genetic data of more than 67,000 women, the researchers developed a “polygenic risk score”, incorporating the 77 genetic variants. In conjunction with other factors such as breast density and family history, the researchers say that the polygenic risk score will be an important predictor for breast cancer.
“This genetic risk factor adds valuable information to what we already know can affect a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer,” says study co-author Celine Vachon, Ph.D. , an epidemiologist at Mayo Clinic. “We are currently developing a test based on these results, and though it isn’t ready for clinical use yet, I think that within the next few years we will be using this approach for better personalized screening and prevention strategies for our patients.”
“To do an even better job at risk prediction, we need to include this genetic profile into breast cancer risk models, along with other relevant information like family history, lifestyle risk factors, previous biopsies, and breast density,” says study co-author Fergus Couch, Ph.D., a molecular geneticist and pathologist at Mayo Clinic. “But first we need to make sure that each of the factors are independent, because if the polygenic risk score is simply repeating what was already accounted for by some of the other known risk factors then it won’t be valuable in a risk model setting.”
In addition to funding for this project made possible by the National Cancer Institute, researchers at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center receive millions in life science funding every year for R&D expenses.
For example, Mayo Clinic, in collaboration with University of Minnesota, has received 7 grants totaling over $5.5 million for research in the areas of prostate cancer, heart valves, multiple myeloma, and glioblastoma and glaucoma.
Other key funding stats from Mayo Clinic include:
- Mayo Clinic reported annual revenue of $8.8 billion for 2012.
- Last year, Mayo Clinic received $369 million in government, foundation and industry funding.
- Mayo Clinic was awarded $9,867,850 from the National Institutes of Health, in order to develop a population genetics analysis program.
- The Mayo Clinic recently received $585 million in government funding for the new Destination Medical Center which will house, among other facilities, a massive radiation treatment center.
As a leading medical research facility, Mayo Clinic is home to prominent researchers who will be attending the 10th Annual BioResearch Product Faire™ Event in Rochester, Minnesota on Thursday, May 21, 2015. Every year, scores of researchers from Mayo Clinic and surrounding facilities attend this premier event to network and learn about the latest lab products to aid their research projects.
To attend free of charge as a life science researcher, please click below:
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