Justin Balko on the Diversity of Genetic Alterations in TNBC

December 8, 2012

Justin M. Balko, PharmD, PhD, from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, discusses research into clinically targetable genetic alterations in patients with triple-negative breast cancer.

Justin M. Balko, PharmD, PhD, a research faculty member who works in the lab of Carlos Arteaga, MD, at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee, discusses research into clinically targetable genetic alterations in patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

In the study, 81 tumor samples were examined for a panel of 182 tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes, using next-generation sequencing techniques. The trial found a wide range in the number of mutations in each TNBC sample. Some tumors were found to harbor up to 7 different alterations and a majority had at least 1 mutation in p53, which occurred in approximately 95% of samples.

Given the broad diversity of mutations found in TNBC, the best approach may be to organize these alterations into pathways, believes Balko. Many of the alterations resided in targetable clinical pathway, including PI3k/mTOR, cell cycle, DNA repair, and Ras/MAPK. Using a single pathway inhibitor may be the best approach for future trials in TNBC, Balko notes.

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