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Breast Cancer: Map holds hope for future

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.

Breast cancer tissue: iStock

It is hoped that the map, which uses large sets of data to create a network of links between cell shape and genes, will one day help doctors select treatments.

The researchers analysed cell shape in millions of images of more than 300,000 breast cancer cells, and data for more than 28,000 different genes.

They found that cell shape changes, which can be caused by physical pressures on the tumour, are converted into changes in gene activity.

Using the maps to analyse thousands of samples, they discovered that these changes are linked to clinical outcomes for patients.

Professor Karen Vousden said: “The insights and approaches used in this research could one day lead to us being able to tell from appearance, how aggressive someone’s cancer is and how likely to spread, helping doctors decide the best course of treatment.”  

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