‘Omics Approaches in Breast Cancer Research and Clinical Practice

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Our understanding of the natural history of breast cancer has evolved alongside technologies to study its genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomics landscapes. These technologies have helped decipher multiple molecular pathways dysregulated in breast cancer. First-generation ‘omics analyses considered each of these dimensions individually, but it is becoming increasingly clear that more holistic, integrative approaches are required to fully understand complex biological systems. The ‘omics represent an exciting era of discovery in breast cancer research, although important issues need to be addressed to realize the clinical utility of these data through precision cancer care. How can the data be applied to predict response to molecular-targeted therapies? When should treatment decisions be based on tumor genetics rather than histology? And with the sudden explosion of “big data” from large ‘omics consortia and new precision clinical trials, how do we now negotiate evidence-based pathways to clinical translation through this apparent sea of opportunity? The aim of this review is to provide a broad overview of ‘omics technologies used in breast cancer research today, the current state-of-play in terms of applying this new knowledge in the clinic, and the practical and ethical issues that will be central to the public discussion on the future of precision cancer care.

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