Dr. Liao’s section to create world’s first list of breast cancer specific Fusion RNAs

A $571,875 grant to study breast cancer has been awarded to Dr. Joshua Liao, leader of the Translational Cancer Research section at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic.

Funded through April 2013, the two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense is focused on RNA chimeras, as a novel gene signature of breast cancer.  Chimeric RNA is a transcript formed by the fusing together of two different genes’ transcripts. This project will provide the first comprehensive list of breast cancer specific RNA chimeras. Many of these chimeras may show increased or decreased expression in breast cancer and will be used to establish the world’s first DNA oligo chip microarray.

“This study is highly innovative,” Liao said, “and the resulting data will not only deepen our understanding of breast cancer biology but also have clinical values.”

This chip array, Liao says, should be a better molecular signature of breast cancer compared to other gene signatures, such as microRNA or cDNA microarrays. The hope is that it will make for a better tool for diagnosing breast cancer as well as monitoring prognosis or treatment efficacy, he said.

The Hormel Institute is a world-renowned medical research center specializing in researching nontoxic, natural compounds that can be used to prevent, control or cure cancer. It comprises a group of highly successful medical scientists who have focused their efforts on determining the basic molecular mechanisms of cancer development to develop new anti-cancer agents.