Technology Portfolio

Two-Gene Predictor of Breast Cancer

This two-gene assay identifies breast cancer patients who are likely to achieve long-term survival with tamoxifen treatment alone. This risk stratification tool accurately guides therapeutic decisions, sparing patients from other toxic adjuvant chemotherapies that provide little or no additional benefit.

Technology Overview

Reference #: WFU 10-15

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed an assay based on two genes (ferroportin and hepcidin) that can accurately stratify ER+ breast cancer patients, identifying individuals who have a high likelihood of long-term survival with tamoxifen treatment alone.

Ferroportin and hepcidin are good predictors of response to chemotherapy thereby providing useful guidance to the clinician. Because iron facilitates cell proliferation and growth, it can contribute to tumor initiation and tumor growth. Both ferroportin and hepcidin play an important role in iron homeostasis in cells.

Patients with estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer can be treated with tamoxifen, which improves survival in those patients. However, it has been historically difficult to define which patients with ER+ breast cancer might benefit from additional treatment using chemotherapies. Because there is not a clear methodology for separating the patients who need chemotherapy from those who only need a tamoxifen treatment, there is a population of ER+ cancer patients receiving chemotherapy—and the toxic effects of this kind of treatment—unnecessarily.

Assay is available for development as an in vitro diagnostic or CLIA-approved laboratory test for clinical testing.

  • Lance Miller, PhD, Department of Cancer Biology
  • Suzy Torti, MD, Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics, University of Connecticut Health Center
  • Frank Torti, MD, Department of Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center