Study: These biomarkers can predict the course of therapy for breast cancer

Study: These biomarkers can predict the course of therapy for breast cancer

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Predictions of the risk of relapse in breast cancer possible

Researchers have successfully identified a biomarker that allows predictions of a future relapse risk in hormone-dependent tumors. The risk of relapse of breast cancer can be calculated in affected persons.

In their research, the scientists at MedUni Graz found a biomarker that enables hormone-dependent tumors to be predicted about a possible relapse risk. The experts published a press release on the results of their current study.

GIRK1 protein affects mortality in women with special breast cancer

A biomarker for the diagnosis of breast cancer with poor chances of recovery was identified at the Med-Uni Graz. A higher content of the so-called GIRK1 protein leads to a higher frequency of relapse and mortality in women with a special tumor subtype, the researchers explain.

What are ion channels?

By examining tissue samples, the scientists have already developed two different detection methods. Ion channels consist of pore-forming proteins. These enable ions to cross cell separation layers (biomembranes). Ion channels are an indispensable part of human beings and enable the heart, brain or pancreas to function. At least two building blocks are required to build up potassium ion channels in the cell membrane. One component is the GIRK1 protein.

GIRK1 protein a reliable biomarker?

After five years of research, the researchers were able to demonstrate that a special protein can act as a possible biomarker. The experts found that a higher content of the GIRK1 protein is associated with an increased relapse frequency and mortality of patients with the hormone-dependent tumor subtype (ER +) after breast cancer surgery, explains the medical doctor Thomas Bauernhofer from the Graz University of Medicine.

GIRK1 can reduce the likelihood of survival

Usually, patients with a so-called estrogen receptor positive (ER +) tumor respond well to hormone treatment. However, if the tumor produces a lot of GIRK1, the affected patients are less likely to survive. When samples of tissue with the genetic profiles of breast tumors were compared with the survival data of the participants, the women who were at particular risk could be identified, the doctors explain. However, it is still too early to determine the specific biomarker for each biopsy, the experts say. The results of the investigation have so far not led to any therapeutic consequences. However, the association of GIRK1 with a poor survival rate should be considered, the authors add.

Which two methods could the scientists develop?

The researchers from Graz have succeeded in developing two methods that can demonstrate excessive GIRK1 production in tissue sections. Scientists who investigate other relationships with the GIRK ion channel also benefit from the so-called staining method using so-called immunohistochemistry. The second method is the so-called fluorescence in situ hybridization. It enables the expression of the GIRK1 mRNA in the tumor tissue to be determined with the help of an automatic image analysis.

Reasons for higher mortality in women with estrogen receptor positive tumor and high GIRK1 expression

In addition to the gene for GIRK1, three other genes become active in the tumor. This was determined by a so-called gene cluster investigation. Two of these genes are associated with an estrogen receptor, one gene was associated with the so-called angiotensin II receptor, the scientists explain. The authors speculate that the higher mortality rate among women with estrogen receptor-positive tumors and high GIRK1 expression seems to have to do with a poorer effect of hormone therapy or a higher ability to metastasize. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Providing Predictive and Prognostic Biomarkers for Breast Cancer From the TAILORx Trial (May 2022).