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NCI Cancer Center News

Researchers discover how normal breast precursor cells may be genetically vulnerable to developing into cancer

  • Posted: June 12, 2013

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and its Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, along with colleagues from the Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada, have discovered how normal breast precursor cells may be genetically vulnerable to developing into cancer. Their study identified a rare and critical subset of normal human breast cells, luminal progenitors, that possess extremely short chromosome ends known as telomeres. Telomeres are the very end regions of chromosomes that serve as protective caps to prevent DNA-damaging events such as fusion of the end of one chromosome with the end of another.

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Among the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 67 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.