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Gene that cuts cancer risk

22nd November 2007

A new study funded by SPARKS and the Neuroblastoma Society has found that an individual gene might provide protection "against a variety of cancers".

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The research, published in the journal Oncogene, discovered that two types of the B-MYB gene were seen less frequently in people with cancer. The gene is carried by up to 50% of people across the world.

Previous research had already found that B-MYB was connected to the "spread and development" of cancer and was "over-active" in many cancers.

The study examined over 400 patients who had either colon cancer, a brain tumour called neuroblastoma, or chronic myeloid leukaemia.

The patients' type of B-MYB gene underwent analysis and was the subject of comparison to the types of gene in 230 "control" subjects, who did not have cancer.

The study saw that the cancer patients were 50% as likely to have a particular type of gene in comparison with the control subjects.

The number of people in the population who have the type of gene which could prevent cancer shows some variation between ethnic groups. It is thought up to half of the African population may have it and slightly less of the population in Europe and America.

The Institute of Child Health's Dr Arturo Sala said: "This would suggest that we have found a key player in the genetic influences in cancer. Although the results are statistically significant, we would certainly want to see the scale of the effect confirmed in a much larger study."

"People who carry these gene variants might well be protected against cancer".



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