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Research Study of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Highlights Ability of NextBio Clinical to Identify Biomarkers

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The ability of NextBio Clinical to rapidly identify biomarkers and possible disease targets in an aggressive form of breast cancer was highlighted this week in a poster presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2012 Breast Cancer Symposium. NextBio Clinical was used to investigate a cohort of published patient data, curated by NextBio, for key differences between Triple Positive Breast Cancer (TPBC) and Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), a form of the disease that offers a worse prognosis for those diagnosed. Results of the study quickly identified several key differences in gene expression and methylation status between the two breast cancer types, as well as a novel biomarker and potential alternate way of treating TNBC.

“This study clearly demonstrates the power of curated public data and the ability of NextBio’s sophisticated computational engine to employ ‘big data’ technology for rapid discovery in translational research studies,” said Anita Umesh, Ph.D., NextBio scientist and lead author of the study. “Our work involved stratification of a patient population and comparison of the biomarkers between the two patient sub-groups, an otherwise complex task that was easily accomplished in a short amount of time by the NextBio platform. A similar process can be applied by all NextBio users in their translational research projects to enable unique insights.”

The researchers first stratified the NextBio-curated TCGA roster of breast cancer patients into two distinct groups: those with Triple Positive Breast Cancer (TPBC) versus those with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). A comparison of the two cohorts in NextBio Clinical identified a biomarker Anterior Gradient 3 or AGR3, which was reduced in the TNBC group but up-regulated in the TPBC group. The researchers also found significant differences in the methylation status of the AGR3 gene between TPBC and TNBC, with significantly higher percentage of hypo-methylation in the former, suggesting that methylation was a regulatory mechanism for the gene.

“These findings, along with the fact that reduction of AGR3 was associated with severe mutations of TP53, suggest that the AGR3 gene should be further evaluated to identify alternate ways of treating TNBC,” said Dr. Umesh. “Triple Negative Breast Cancer patients have a much worse prognosis than those that are triple positive. The ability to rapidly identify novel biomarkers and potential targets for drug discovery offers the opportunity to improve future outcomes for this hard-to-treat form of breast cancer.”

Study: Business Wire