Cancers linked by faulty gene

2 July 2010

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Category: Research & medical benefits

breast–scan–cancer.jpgProstate cancer and hereditary breast cancer could be linked by the same gene, research on mice suggests.

It is known that the gene BRCA2 plays a role in the development of breast cancer. Scientists decided to investigate BRCA2 in relation to prostate cancer as it can have a hereditary component like breast or ovarian cancer.

Male mice were modified to knock out the gene in their prostate glands. After their first birthday the mice began to accumulate damaged DNA at a fast rate, more than could be repaired. Anti-tumour genes became damaged and could no longer suppress the cancerous cells. These findings suggest that BRCA2 plays the same role in prostate as in breast cancer, and its absence or damage could lead to prostate cancer.

Researchers believe this result could lead to the use of similar medicines to treat patients with either type of cancer.