New genetic clues to breast and ovarian cancer

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 55 , No. 5 , June 2013 , Pages 233-234 News

A major international study has found that gene sequence differences crucial to the maintenance of our chromosomes’ integrity predispose us to certain cancers. 

Angela Brooks-Wilson, an associate professor in SFU’s biomedical physiology and kinesiology department and a Distinguished Scientist at the BC Cancer Agency, is one of more than 600 scientists around the world who contributed to this study. 

The study, entitled “Multiple independent variants at the TERT locus are associated with telomere length and risks of breast and ovarian cancer,” is published in Nature Genetics.

Study data show that variations in the sequencing of the TERT gene, which encodes an enzyme crucial to telomere maintenance, influence telo­mere length and our risk of getting breast and ovarian cancers. 

Telomeres encapsulate chromosome ends and shorten in length over our lifespan, potentially exposing chro­mosomal ends, which can lead to genetic damage and cancer. It is estimated that up to 80% of telomere-length variation is inherited, and this study is the first to connect that inheritance to predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. 

The study can be viewed at www.nature.com/ng/journal/v45/n4/full/ng.2566.html.

. New genetic clues to breast and ovarian cancer. BCMJ, Vol. 55, No. 5, June, 2013, Page(s) 233-234 - News.



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