Scientists Find New Ovarian Cancer Gene

August 9, 2011 by staff 

Scientists Find New Ovarian Cancer GeneScientists Find New Ovarian Cancer Gene, Women who carry one defective copy of a gene called RAD51D have a probability almost one in 11 of developing ovarian cancer, scientists said on Sunday in a finding that he called the most important ovarian cancer gene discovery over 10 years.

Tests to identify people most at risk is expected to be available within a few years, according to Cancer Research UK, and can lead to some women who choose to have their ovaries in order to overcome the disease.

The finding should also accelerate the search for new drugs. Laboratory experiments and suggest that cells with defective RAD51D are sensitive to PARP inhibitors – a new class of drugs designed to treat cancers caused by flaws in two genes called breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Several large pharmaceutical companies like Abbott, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca are developing PARP inhibitors, which act by blocking DNA repair mechanisms in cancer cells, stopping the cell cycle and cell killing.

Data released in May showed that one of them, olaparib AstraZeneca was able to slow the progression of ovarian cancer in a mid-stage clinical trial.

For the latest study, researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research UK compared the DNA of 911 families of women with ovarian cancer and breast cancer, with DNA from a control group of more than 10,000 people in the general population.

We found eight failures RAD51D gene in women with cancer, compared with only one in the control group.

“Women with a fault in the gene RAD51D have one in 11 chance of developing ovarian cancer,” said Nazneen Rahman of the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospital in London, who led the study and published their findings in the Nature Genetics.

Ovarian cancer can remain hidden for long and thus often not discovered until it is advanced.

An estimated 230,000 women worldwide are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. Most are not diagnosed before the cancer has spread, and up to 70 percent of them die within five years.

Because of this, Rahman said, women with the defective gene can determine the best option is to have their ovaries removed after having children – especially if you have other family members die of the disease.

Speaking to Reuters in a telephone interview said that the identification of RAD51D told PARP inhibitors as a new class of drugs could offer new hope. Initial tests in the laboratory found that cells with defective RAD51D are very sensitive to these drugs.

“PARP inhibitors work as they were designed to target the DNA repair pathways,” he said. “They have not been used in patients in this context yet, but we predict that they would behave the same way.”

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