New biomolecular markers in the fight against heterogeneity in breast cancer

28 04 2014


Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women and its incidence has increased over the past few years, with a stubbornly high mortality rate despite the downward trend. One of the characteristics of this disease is heterogeneity in both the clinical phase and the response to oncological treatment.

The reason for this clinical heterogeneity can partly be explained by the existence of various pathological breast cancer sub-types. The classification of cancers on the basis of immunohistochemical markers has been key to choosing specific oncological treatments.

In this regard, various Spanish and French biomedical research institutes that form the cross-border biomedical research network Refbio (Navarrabiomed, the Hospital Complex of Navarra, the Center for Biomedical Research of La Rioja and the Université Paul Sabatier III in Toulouse) have launched the ncRNAbc project, which is aimed at analysing new predictive biomarkers for oncological treatment response in patients with two specific breast cancer sub-types. Specifically, the global microRNA (a small, non-coding type of RNA) expression patterns will be analysed with respect to oncological treatment.

According to Navarrabiomed researcher Dr. David Guerrero, “the inclusion of new markers has allowed known breast cancer sub-types, the treatment indications for which differ, to be more accurately differentiated”. However, according to Dr. Guerrero “each sub-type contains tumours that are more or less aggressive, thus meaning that new molecular markers that help to explain this heterogeneity need to be studied”.

The project forms part of a series of collaborative projects designed by the cross-border biomedical research network Refbio, which involves biomedical research organisations from the regions of Navarre, Basque Country, La Rioja, Aragón and Midi Pyrénées.