Scientists from the Cancer Genome Project (CGP) at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, have discovered that a mutation in a single gene - called BRAF - is a common element in approximately 70 per cent of malignant skin cancers. The mutation is similar to another that is known to cause some leukaemias, and for which a drug blocking the action of the gene has already been developed, leading to hope that a similar development can be made in the treatment of melanomas.
Mike Stratton, one of the directors of the Institute said that 'the most exciting thing about this discovery is that it could be a direct lead to new treatments for malignant melanoma'. The discovery has been described as a 'welcome but unexpectedly early discovery' for the CGP, which was established in 2000 to work with the information provided by the Human Genome Project to discover genetic causes for cancers.
Meanwhile, a team of American researchers claims that it has identified a cluster of six gene mutations that might predispose the carrier to breast cancer. The researchers, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, were studying the genetic causes of Fanconi's anaemia (FA), an inherited disorder that increases children's susceptibility to cancer. They have found that people who have a mutation in one of the genes associated with FA may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, possible as high as that associated with mutations in known breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Sources and References
Cancer gene search strikes early success
New gene link to breast cancer susceptibility
Scientists find rogue gene that triggers skin cancer