Scientists in US categorised breast cancer in to ten different subtypes, each having a unique genetic print that determine the type of drugs and treatment that could lead to a possible cure.

Instead of considering breast cancer as a single disease with a restricted set of treatments, the scientists firmly believes that it is now more accurate to view it as a range of illnesses with a wide variety of potential therapies that can be tailored to individual patients. Scientists for the study sought the help of advanced genetics to determine the subtype of cancer.

Till date, breast cancers are classified according to the presence or absence of a few "markers" or proteins which normally present on the surface of tumour cells. In future, doctors will classify breast cancers based on the presence, absence or even activity of the smallest bits of DNA code.

Scientists analyzed 2,000 samples of breast-tumour tissue collected from women in Britain and Canada with the help of new techniques in DNA analysis, such as computer-controlled "micro arrays" that can automatically scan the entire three-billion-letter code of the human genome for the smallest of mutations. Scientists were able to categorise each tissue sample into one of 10 subtypes and found several new genes which trigger or control breast cancer. This revelation would help scientists to develop novel anti-cancer drugs in the near future.

"Our results will pave the way for doctors to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, the types of drugs that will work, and those that won't, in a much more precise way than is currently possible," said Professor Carlos Caldas of Cambridge University, a senior member of the Anglo-Canadian research consortium. "Essentially we've moved from knowing what a breast tumour looks like under a microscope to pinpointing its molecular anatomy – and eventually we'll know which drugs it will respond to," Professor Caldas said.

"This has the potential to change the face of breast cancer; from how we diagnose and treat it, to how we follow it up," said Julia Wilson, head of research at the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The present therapy of cancer is erroneous, which relies on a single method to treat all the cancer subtypes. The new study will have tremendous implications that lead to rapid development of new drugs and therapies, tailor-made for each cancer sub type.

"We have a better classification with better powers to predict. It is a new way of selecting the best trials for patients and that's the first use we will make of this," Professor Caldas said.

“This in the years to come will have an enormous impact in the way we think about both diagnosing and treating women with breast cancer, and that should enable us to continue the progress we’ve made in breast cancer over the past 25 years,” said Dr Kumar, chief executive of the charity Cancer Research UK.

The study is detailed in the journal ‘Nature.’