12 February 2006

Breast Cancer Researchers given Powerful New Tools

Snowcrash at Biosingularity has posted on a very important topic--the creation of an extensive protein library and complementary DNA library of proteins that are involved in breast cancer. These new tools are very likely to boost breast cancer research significantly.

“The process of carcinogenesis is complex and involves the activation of many different cellular programs,” says Joan Brugge, PhD, Chair, HMS Department of Cell Biology, and co-principal investigator of this initiative, called Breast Cancer 1000. “A significant limitation for breast cancer research has been the inability to distinguish whether certain proteins that are altered in breast tumor cells are the cause or the effect of conversion of normal breast cells to malignancy. The systematic approach that we’ve enabled and demonstrated will allow researchers to track cancer-causing proteins in simulated environments, with the goal of learning how to impede them.”

“The availability of this collection will enable pilot experimentation and accelerate the development of faster techniques for studying breast cancer in a mammalian setting,” says Joshua LaBaer, MD, PhD, director of the Harvard Institute of Proteomics (a division of Harvard Medical School), and also co-principal investigator. “To advance breast cancer research quickly, we are making the BC1000 library publicly available. It can be viewed from the Harvard Institute of Proteomics website (http://www.hip.harvard.edu/).

There is much more detail at Biosingularity blog. Read the whole thing to understand this very important development.

When scientists achieved the primary goals of the human genome project, a lot of people shrugged their shoulders, and said "so what?" Most of the public did not understand that the human genome project was only the foundation of the building. People do not generally admire an impressive structure for its foundation. The magnificent tools that are being built on earlier research are dazzling to those who understand their significance. But the public will not truly be dazzled until they start seeing miracle cures from all the research. Then, after a short time, the miracle cures will become commonplace, and all eyes will look for something newer and even more dramatic.

Knowledge of functional biology is exploding. No one person can keep up with the trends, much less the details. Many of us will certainly try.


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