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Key breast cancer ‘driver’ gene found

February 20, 2011
"This is exciting because it's a prime candidate for the development of new breast cancer drugs designed specifically to target tumours in which this gene is overactive."
- Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK

Cancer experts have identified a gene which can cause a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer to develop.

ZNF703 is the first "oncogene" to be discovered in five years.

It is overactive in around one in 12 breast cancers, and could account for up to 4,000 UK cases a year.

Cancer Research UK, whose scientists carried out the work, said the gene was a "prime candidate" for the development of new breast cancer drugs.

An oncogene is one which would normally help instruct healthy cells to divide but if it becomes overactive, it upsets the normal checks and balances that control that process.

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