Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center investigators have identified three new genetic "hotspots" linked to colorectal cancer.
These variants, reported Dec. 23 in an Advanced Online Publication in Nature Genetics, provide new insight into the biology of colorectal cancer and could represent new therapeutic targets for the disease.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide and rates are particularly high in the United States and other developed countries. Genetics plays an important role in both sporadic and familial (inherited) forms of the disease. However, only about 6 percent of colorectal cancer cases are explained by the rare genetic variants known to confer high risk of colorectal cancer (as seen in familial forms of the disease).
Previous studies on the genetic basis of colorectal cancer have pinpointed several additional variants, but most of the studies were conducted in European/Caucasian populations.
"Looking at different ethnic groups is important because the genetic structures can be different enough that variants identified in one population do not explain risk in other populations," said Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, an Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and senior author on the study. "Because of the difference in genetic structures and underlying environment exposures, it might be easier to discover some risk variants in studies conducted in non-European populations."
In 2009, Zheng and colleagues in several Asian countries established the "Asia Colorectal Cancer Consortium" to search for novel genetic risk factors for the disease. The consortium included populations in China, Korea and Japan.
Using an approach known as a "genome-wide association study" (or GWAS), Zheng and colleagues began searching for common variants linked to disease risk.
From genomic data obtained from 2,098 colorectal cancer cases and 5,749 controls, the researchers iden
|Contact: Dagny Stuart|
Vanderbilt University Medical Center