Study finds 'prostate cancer gene'
Published on 13 January 2012 11:00 AM
Researchers have identified a rare genetic variant that could be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
A new study suggests that men who inherit the defective HOXB13 gene are 10 to 20 times more likely to develop the disease.
The discovery is the first genetic mutation to be associated with prostate cancer, and may help to explain why some men develop the disease at a young age.
The scientists hope that their findings could one day help to develop a genetic test for prostate cancer and pave the way for new treatments.
Researchers looked at the DNA of more than 5,000 prostate cancer patients.
They found that the 1.4% who carried the defective HOXB13 gene were much more likely to have a close family member diagnosed with the disease.
One of the researchers, Professor William Isaacs from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US, said: 'It's what we've been looking for over the past 20 years.
'It's long been clear that prostate cancer can run in families, but pinpointing the underlying genetic basis has been challenging and previous (studies) have provided inconsistent results.'
He added: 'We need to continue studying this variant and look at larger groups of men. Future DNA sequencing may also identify additional rare variants that contribute to prostate cancer risk in families.'
The findings have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Copyright Press Association 2012