Researchers have discovered a new breast cancer gene that's overly active in 30 to 40 percent of women with the disease. The high percentage makes the malfunctioning of this gene, called I-kappa-B kinase epsilon (IKBKE), one of the most widespread genetic traits among breast cancer patients, says William C. Hahn, coleader of the research team at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass. Their study appears in the June 15 Cell.
Most cancer-related mutations are present in less than 10 percent of women with breast cancer, and only a few important ones characterize as much as 30 percent of that population.
The discovery gives drug companies a significant new target for breast cancer drugs. In addition, the study proved the value of a novel way for scientists to screen any kind of tumor for key cancer-causing mutations.
IKBKE is normally active only in immune system cells, where it helps trigger a response to invading viruses. It has