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Tuesday 25th October 2016

New breast cancer genes found

28th May 2007

Scientists have worked out a new technique which can spot the genes that increase the risk of breast cancer.


They want their work to lead to a blood test in order to show if a woman might develop the disease. The new technique has been welcomed by Cancer Research UK as "hugely significant."

A research team headed by Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Research Institute, published in the Nature journal, has identified five new genes. In 2005, scientists found two genes which can cause breast cancer.

The new technique accelerates the process of identifying genes from a subject's DNA - a process which might take over ten years - and could be used to find all the genes connected with the cancer.

Using a computer, the new process can take only a few hours. It places relevant parts of a subject's DNA alongside a healthy subject's and evaluates any differences. Researchers compared the DNA of almost 50,000 female subjects - 50% had breast cancer and 50% were healthy.

Professor Douglas Easton, director of Cancer Research UK's genetic epidemiology unit in Cambridge, told BBC Five Live: "Now we know these search methods are effective, we think that many more breast cancer genes can be found."

"These methods are already being applied by Cancer Research UK to find genes for a whole range of other cancers, including prostate, bowel and lung cancer."

He said identifying further genes could help to "prevent" the cancer, because women at "particularly high risk of the disease" could be spotted.

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