A future with personalized breast cancer care? Yes, says Johns Hopkins report

New breast cancer research out of Johns Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center reveals the cellular, microbial and genomic makeup of cancerous breast tumors differ greatly between white, Black and Asian women. This information "could potentially be used to personalize care or predict disease progression," according to a Johns Hopkins March 27 release. 

A Jan. 26 Nature Partner Journals Breast Cancer report said race-specific microbial biomarkers show a correlation between the genes involved in blood vessel growth, tumor cell migration and metastasis, and overall tumor aggressiveness as well as the cancer pathways GLI1 and Notch.

"The factors governing racial disparities in breast cancer are multifactorial and can include socioeconomic status, access to primary care, timely referrals, and health and nutrition," said Dipali Sharma, PhD, senior study author. 

Dr. Sharma, a professor of oncology at the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a John Fetting Fund for Breast Cancer Prevention researcher, continued: "It is important to identify additional modifiers for these differences. Our study demonstrates that the microbiome and immune microenvironments of breast tumors also vary significantly among women of different ethnicities and could potentially be used as biomarkers to predict disease progression or response to treatment."

The study looked at genomic and metagenomic data from the Cancer Genome Atlas cohort of 1,018 patients diagnosed with breast cancer, including 65 women of Asian descent, 257 Black women and 696 white women. Analyses of 64-cell breast tumor signatures found "11 of the cell types showed very distinct, statistically significant variations among races."

Cellular differences between tumors in Asian and Black women revealed fewer definitive differences, while the differences between tumors from white and Black women were most pronounced. 


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