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Br J Cancer. 1996 Sep;74(5):802-6.

Functional assay for HER-2/neu demonstrates active signalling in a minority of HER-2/neu-overexpressing invasive human breast tumours.

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Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Overexpression of HER-2/neu in human breast carcinomas correlates with poor prognosis, although its strength as a prognostic indicator varies widely in different reports. Variability may be due to active signalling by HER-2/neu in a subset of the tumours in which it is overexpressed. To study this hypothesis, we have developed an activation state-specific anti-HER-2/neu monoclonal antibody. In this report, we use this antibody to analyse the signalling status of HER-2/neu in a large series of invasive breast carcinomas. Overexpression of HER-2/neu was detected in 9% of 223 cases. Of the cases demonstrating overexpression, active signalling by HER-2/neu was detected in only 35%. The clinicopathological characteristics of these cases are described. This functional assay is predicted to improve the utility of HER-2/ neu as a prognostic indicator.

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