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Breast cancer study offers 'road map' for a cure

A new breast cancer genetics study has broken the disease up into four distinct types.

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is shown a mammogram scanner during a visit to Nottingham Breast Institute in England. (WPA Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

A new breast cancer study has broken down the disease into four distinct types, which could very well lead researchers closer to a cure. 

Published Sunday in scientific journal Nature, the study found distinct genetic trademarks for certain cancers that will allow scientists to generate more precise treatment options for specific genetic mutations. 

"This is the road map for how we might cure breast cancer in the future," Dr. Matthew Ellis of Washington University, a researcher for the study, told the New York Times

The study sequenced the genomes of 825 breast tumors, and is being called the most comprehensive study of breast cancer ever done, and broke them down into four subtypes. The research is part of a larger US-based project called the Cancer Genome Atlas, which is looking at 20 types of cancers, Bloomberg Businessweek reported

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One of the sub-classes had multiple similarities to ovarian cancers, and could be driven by the same type of biological developments, the Associated Press reported.

"It's clear they are genetically more similar to ovarian tumors than to other breast cancers," Ellis said. "Whether they can be treated the same way is an intriguing possibility that needs to be explored."

This more individualized approach to cancer treatment has pushed drug manufacturers to identify medications that target specific mutations, Bloomberg reported. 

"There are a lot of steps that turn basic science into clinically meaningful results," Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, an advocacy group, told the New York Times. "It is the 'stay tuned' story."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120924/breast-cancer-study-offers-road-map-cure