Harikrishna Nakshastri, PhD, on Characterizing Early Oncogenesis in Breast Cancer


The professor of breast cancer research at Indiana University discussed new research with the TONSL gene from Indiana University.

“What happens very early, when the cells first encounter these genomic aberrations that make them immortal and not die off after 10 to 15 cycles of division? For many years, people have not been able to [answer that question], mainly because we had no way to grow enough primary cells with allof them dying. So now, with the tissue bank that we have, more than 6000 healthy women donated their breast tissue for research purpose. We collect common normal tissue bank at Indiana University Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. From that we came up with a method where we can take a core biopsy, grow the cells out of them, and then immortalize them.”

Recent research from the Indiana University School of Medicine has identified the TONSL gene as an immortalizing oncogene and therefore a potential therapeutic target.This research was presented at the American Associated for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2023, held April 14-19 in Orlando, Florida, by Harikrishna Nakshastri, PhD, Marian J. Morrison Professor of Breast Cancer Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.

CGTLive’s sister site, OncLive, spoke with Nakshastri to learn more about the research him and his team conducted with early oncogenesis in cell lines and how they identified the TONSL gene as an immortalizing oncogene. He discussed the progress that has been made in understanding the genomics of cancer in the recent past but stressed that many questions remain to be answered about the early phases of oncogenesis. He credited IU’s tissue bank and the thousands of women that have donated breast tissue to help research these questions.

Khatpe AS, Dirks R, Bhat-Nakshastri P, et al. TONSL is an immortalizing oncogene of the chromosome 8q24.3 amplicon and new therapeutic target in breast cancer. Presented at: AACR Annual Meeting 2023. Abstract 5458.
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