Big data advances breast cancer research by ‘decades’

Big data has brought forward breast cancer research forward by ‘decades’, experts say.

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Scientists have created a ‘map’ linking the shape of breast cancer cells to genes turned on and off, and matched it to real disease outcomes, which could one day help doctors select treatments, according to a study  published in Genome Research.

Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, used large sets of data to map out a network of links between cell shape and genes.

By analysing cell shape in millions of images of more than 300,000 breast cancer cells, and data for more than 28,000 different genes, researchers found that cell shape changes, which can be caused by physical pressures on the tumour, are converted into changes in gene activity.

When they then used their maps to analyse thousands of samples taken from women who took part in the Cancer Research UK funded METABRIC study, the researchers discovered that these changes are linked to clinical outcomes for patients.

Read more at OnMedica

Full reference: Heba Z. Sailem & Chris Bakal Identification of clinically predictive metagenes that encode components of a network coupling cell shape to transcription by image-omics
Genome Research. 2017. 27: 196-207

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Let’s talk about cancer: the Manchester project that aims to save lives

Cancer deaths in Greater Manchester are 10% higher than the UK average. A new volunteer scheme wants to change this | The Guardian

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The idea, led by Greater Manchester Cancer Vanguard Innovation, (part of Greater Manchester Cancer – the cancer programme of Greater Manchester’s devolved health and social care partnership), is to use people power to create a cultural shift in one of the UK’s cancer hot spots, and make it normal to talk about screening, healthier lifestyle options and catching symptoms early.

Working with the voluntary sector, the aim is to sign up 5,000 cancer champions by autumn 2017, and to reach 20,000 by 2019. Mobilising this cancer army is one of a series of measures to cut premature cancer deaths in the area by 1,300 by 2021.

Read the full news story here