NRG1 (Image: Wikipedia) In a breakthrough discovery, scientists at the University of Cambridge have found the gene responsible for the spread of almost half of all breast cancers and say it is possible that the same gene contributes to the spread of other cancers such as prostate, ovarian, bladder, and bowel cancers.
But it is not the presence of the gene that's responsible for the spread of cancer; it's the absence of the gene.
The gene, known as NRG1 (neuregulin-1), normally helps suppress cancers, and is normally part of our DNA located on chromosome 8. But the Cambridge team found in its study of breast cancer tumors that in more than half of the breast tumors the NRG1 gene was absent either totally or in part.
Lead researcher Dr Paul Edwards said: "I believe NRG1 could be the
most important tumour suppressor gene discovery in the last 20 years as
it gives us vital information about a new mechanism that causes breast
"We have got strong evidence that the gene is
implicated in breast cancer, but we have no reason to think it's not the
same for other cancers, including prostate and colon cancer."
Identification of the gene responsible for spreading breast cancer, and possibly many other cancers, is extremely important, as now treatments can be developed that target the defect in the chromosome that carries NRG1. The full study is published in the journal Oncogene. (BBC News)
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