Faulty gene behind a third of kidney cancers
Posted on: 03:38 PM IST Jan 20, 2011
London: A faulty gene is linked to more than a third of all kidney cancers.
The finding will help researchers understand how the cancer develops and may in the future lead to new treatments and earlier diagnosis.
Everyone is born with a gene called PBRM1, but in some people it gets damaged during their lifetime, which can lead to cancer, the journal Nature reports.
A mutated PBRM1 was found in around 40 percent of kidney cancer victims, the most significant finding since another mutation VHL was discovered 20 years ago.
Together scientists believe that the two genes are implicated in the 'majority' of kidney cancers, which strike around 5,000 a year in the UK, the Telegraph reports.
PBMR1 is a landscaping gene, keeping the structure of certain cells in order. Its inactivation allows rogue molecules to get to the DNA and cause abnormal growth and cancer.
The exact reason why the gene is damaged or "turned off" has not yet been discovered.
However, by identifying the gene, the experts hope they will be able to find therapies to target the "Achilles' heel" of the cancer in the future.
Kidney cancer is particularly deadly as it shows few symptoms until it has advanced to a level when it is virtually untreatable.
Andy Futreal, co-author at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, said it was another piece in the jigsaw.
"This is a major new player in renal cancer and provides new targets for treatment," he added.