The latest edition of the journal Nature carries a path breaking news from the field of breast cancer research. The enzyme known to cause the deadly mutations in DNA leading to breast cancer has been found at last. Scientists at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota led by scientist Reuben Harris have successfully discovered the enzyme called APOBEC3B.
Path to Discovery
Professor Harris’ quest for the coveted enzyme began with his research on HIV. During this research he found that the enzyme APOBEC3B is responsible for protection from HIV and related viruses. So he conducted various experiments to quantify the expression of genes that influence the production of this enzyme. When they found that these genes are related to breast cancer, they set up tests which proved that APOBEC3B is the one that is over-expressed in the cell lines and tumors of breast cancer cells. Thus they deduced that APOBEC3B is the prime cause of breast cancer.
The discovery has changed the way breast cancer will be diagnosed and treated. While a simple blood test would be enough to detect the presence of this cancer, a potent single drug therapy might be the only remedy required to treat the ailment which affects millions of women worldwide.
Future of APOBEC3B Research
The next goal for Professor Harris and his team is to find a way to block the APOBEC3B pathway. The team would focus on the links between APOBEC3B levels, genetic factors and age which are the markers for breast cancers. There is also another aspect of the research which can help provide a preventive solution for dealing with HIV related infections. In Prof. Harris’ own words “We strongly believe this discovery will change the way mutations in cancer are viewed and, hopefully, it will allow cancer researchers to develop new treatment approaches that can prevent these mutations before they become harmful,” said Harris.