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Scientists hail 'milestone' breast cancer breakthrough


Scientists hail 'milestone' breast cancer breakthroughA team of international scientists has managed to produce a near-perfect picture of the genetic events that precede and cause breast cancer in women.

The study, which was published in the journal Nature, has been described by the study leader as a "milestone", which could potentially lead the way for new treatments and therapies to be developed to combat the disease.

Cancer Research UK said that the findings of the study were an important stepping stone for developing new drugs for the treatment of breast cancer.

In what has so far been the largest study of its kind - in which researchers analysed all 3 billion letters of people's genetic code, in 560 breast cancers - all of the errors which result in otherwise healthy breast tissue turning rogue were successfully unpicked.

Prof Sir Mike Stratton, director of the Sanger Institute in Cambridge (which led the study), said it was a "milestone" in cancer research.

He added the study's findings would allow universities, biotech and pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs that target the mutated genes and their proteins that cause breast cancer.

"There are now many drugs that have been developed over the last 15 years against such targets which we know work," he said.

One of the downsides of the study is that while the scientists have identified the mutations that cause breast cancer, the origins of many are still very much unknown.

Nevertheless, many experts believe the study is a step closer to the development of personalised health care for breast cancer.