Major Breast Cancer Breakthrough

Posted at: 02/06/2013 10:42 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- The entire city of Austin is pitching in this week to “Paint the Town Pink”, raising money and awareness to help find a cure for breast cancer.

And on Wednesday University of Minnesota researchers offered a ray of hope with new findings that could prove vital in the quest for a cure.

U of M researchers published a new study Wednesday which they believe could dramatically change the way we diagnose and treat breast cancer.

Researchers said they've identified an enzyme that causes genetic mutations that in turn produce cancer cells.

It's a revelation researchers said answers a lot of previously troubling questions.

“We know mutation makes cancer, but we've never really appreciated where it comes from,” Dr. Reuben Harris, the study’s lead author said. “And in this case it's from one of our own enzymes in the majority of breast cancers."

In Austin, where everyone from school children to hair stylists have been donating their time, energy, and money to finding a cure for breast cancer, the news came as a welcome sign that all their hard work was not in vain.

And while the focus in Austin is on breast cancer, it's a breakthrough researchers at the Hormel Institute said could change the way researchers look at other types of cancer as well.

“If we can test this enzyme in other types of cancers also, we can definitely expand this research further in the near future,” said Dr. Yibin Deng, a cancer genetics specialist at the Hormel Institute.

With the money being raised throughout the community, and researchers collaborating on new breakthroughs, experts said it just goes to show that finding a cure is truly a team effort.

“We can set up some collaborations and then with our studies and their studies, put all the study results together,” Dr. Deng said. “And I think this will definitely accelerate that progress."

The new findings actually came as a bit of a surprise for breast cancer researchers. The study actually began as an investigation into treatments for HIV.