Biomarkers are measured characteristics that describe the biological state in organisms by analyzing DNA, RNA, protein, peptides, and biomolecular chemical modifications. Biomarkers can measure the risk of certain cancers in an individual, the progression of the disease, and potential therapy responses.
Breast cancer is the abnormal tissue growth in breasts and is the fourth most common type of cancer in America. DNA methylation regulates gene expression and can change the activity of the DNA segment without changing the sequence.
Jirong Long of Vanderbilt University, as well as his colleagues, studied data from roughly 229,000 women of European descent. Their goals were to identify new genes and methylation markers associated with the risk of breast cancer. They found 450 DNA methylation sites that are associated with breast cancer. Of those 450 sites, 45 were located in chromosomes regions that were once not reported to be related to breast cancer. The results suspected that 38CpGs may affect the risk by regulating 21 genes.
Jirong Long and his colleagues made an important discovery with the 45 DNA methylation sites that were found in chromosomes that weren't linked with breast cancer previously. This discovery can lead to new treatment and preventative plans. It can also help scientists further understand the disease as a whole, how it progresses, and why some people are more likely to develop cancer.