New breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene identified

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London, April 22 (ANI): Scientists have identified a new gene that increases risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

The new discovery was made by the research group of Prof. Alfons Meindl (Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen), in collaboration with other groups from Germany, the U.K., and the U.S.

The identification of such high risk-conferring genes is a prerequisite for offering women tailored early recognition programs and more individualized therapies.

The gene newly identified as causing breast and ovarian cancer in familial cases is designated RAD51C. It is, like BRCA1 and BRCA2, essential for DNA repair within cells.

Mutations in the gene can therefore cause either breast or ovarian cancer. In six out of 480 pedigrees with occurrence of breast and/or ovarian cancer, mutations within the RAD51C gene were found.

The risk for breast cancer in women with mutation of RAD51C is 60 to 80 percent, for ovarian cancer 20 to 40 percent.

As the cancers in such families were diagnosed significantly earlier than in women who developed sporadic breast or ovarian cancer, experts might also call the newly identified gene BRCA3.

"These results reinforce our assumption that various rare gene mutations contribute to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The now known genes that predispose women to breast and/or ovarian cancer only explain 60 percent of the high-risk families," says TUM Professor Alfons Meindl, Klinikum rechts der Isar, but novel technologies allow the rapid identification of other such rarely mutated disease-causing genes.

Their results have been published online in Nature Genetics. (ANI)

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