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Who's driving anyway? Herculean efforts to identify the drivers of breast cancer

Ryan J Hartmaier1, Nolan Priedigkeit12 and Adrian V Lee12*

Author Affiliations

1 Women's Cancer Research Center, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Magee Womens Research Institute, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

2 Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

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Breast Cancer Research 2012, 14:323  doi:10.1186/bcr3325

Published: 31 October 2012


The continuing advancement of sequencing technologies has made the systematic identification of all driving somatic events in cancer a possibility. In the June 2012 issue of Nature, five papers show some significant headway in this endeavor, each a herculean effort of genome sequencing, and transcriptome and copy number analysis resulting in data on thousands of breast cancers. Integrating these massive datasets, the authors were able to further subdivide breast cancer and identify a number of novel driver genes. While the studies represent a leap forward in describing the genomics of breast cancer, and clearly highlight the tremendous diversity between tumors, the studies only scrape the surface of molecular changes in breast tumors, with more granularity to come from the study of epigenomics, single cell sequencing, and so on. The immediate importance of the data to clinical care is currently unknown, and will depend upon detailed identification and functional analysis of driver mutations.