May 2004
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Angiogenesis Gene Linked to Biomarkers in Breast Cancer

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists have made what is believed to be the first link between a gene that controls blood vessel growth and increased activity in a panel of breast cancer biomarkers that regulate tumor cell growth.

Their findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Orlando, Florida.

The HOXB7 (or homeobox B7) gene is thought to drive tumor development by increasing the production of growth factors that affect blood vessel development. The team of Kimmel Cancer Center researchers, led by Saraswati Sukumar, Ph.D., professor of oncology, found increased production of messenger molecules directed by the HOXB7 gene in more than 60 percent of breast cancer cell lines and 90 percent of primary breast cancers.

They also found that the gene is important in initiating cancer cells to move from their primary site to metastatic sites. Their microarray data has shown that HOXB7 gene expression is low or undetectable in normal breast tissue, and is expressed at five to seven times higher in primary tumors and up to 20 times higher in bone metastasis.

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