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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Cancer gene identified

1st May 2007

Scientists from Dundee University believe they may have discovered why some people develop cancer.

The team has identified that people who carry a variant of a specific gene are less likely to develop lung cancer and they are now working on ways to identify similar genes and their relation to other cancers.  The variant gene has also been shown to be quicker and more effective in attacking a potentially cancer-causing protein.
The researchers identified that all humans carry the unaltered gene, CYP1B1, but less than 10% of the population carry its variant which acts three times faster to break down cancer causing proteins than the unaltered gene. Lead researcher, Dr Thomas Friedberg said, “We found that the levels of this protein in cells differed depending on the type of the CYP1B1 gene. This was because some varieties of the CYP1B1 protein were broken down much faster by cellular enzymes. This in turn results in individuals in the metabolism of cancer-causing substances, leading to differences in cancer susceptibility."  He added that he hoped his findings would pave the way for new approaches in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Around 40,000 people in the UK die every year from lung cancer. It is the most common form of cancer in the UK and the most common cause of death from cancer in both men and women.  Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer.  Although non-smokers can contract the disease, the risk is about 10 times greater for smokers and is also increased by the number of cigarettes smoked per day. 


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