Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered a strange new organelle inside our cells that helps to prevent cancer by ensuring that genetic material is sorted correctly as cells divide.
The researchers have connected problems with the organelle to a subset of breast cancer tumors that make lots of mistakes when segregating chromosomes. Excitingly, they found their analysis offered a new way for doctors to sort patient tumors as they choose therapies. They hope these insights will allow doctors to better personalize treatments to best benefit patients – sparing up to 40 percent of patients with breast cancer, for example, a taxing treatment that won’t be effective.
“Some percentage of women get chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer that are not very effective. They are poisoned, in pain and their hair falls out, so if it isn’t curing their disease, then that’s tragic,” said researcher P. Todd Stukenberg, PhD, of UVA’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and the UVA Cancer Center. “One of our goals is to develop new tests to determine whether a patient will respond to a chemotherapeutic treatment, so they can find an effective treatment right away.”
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