Scientists from Singapore, China and USA have identified three new susceptibility genes in a genome-wide association study of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). The study, led by the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), a biomedical research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and the Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Centre, identified genetic risk factors of NPC that advance the understanding of the important role played by host genetic variation in influencing the susceptibility to this cancer.
NPC is a type of cancer that forms in the epithelial lining of the nasopharynx, the area of the upper throat that lies behind the nose. It is particularly prevalent in southern China, such as Guangdong, with an occurrence rate of about 25 times higher than that in most regions of the world. NPC is therefore referred to as the Cantonese Cancer (Cantonese is a Chinese dialect spoken in and around the city of Guangzhou in Southern China). Led by Dr Liu Jianjun, Associate Director and Senior Group Leader of Human Genetics at the GIS, and Professor Yi-Xin Zeng, President of the Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, the findings were published in Nature Genetics on May 30, 2010.
To search for the genetic risk factors for NPC, the scientists carried out a comprehensive genetic analysis of the human genome in a large clinical sample of southern Chinese descent - approximately 5,000 patients and 5,000 controls. The researchers found that the genetic variation within the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)  and the three genes known as TNFRSF19, MDSIEVI1 and CDKN2A/2B can significantly influence a person's risk of developing NPC. The researchers also noticed that these three susceptibility genes for NPC have been reported to be involved in the development of leukemia, suggesting there might be some shared biological mechanism between the developments of these two diseases. This finding provides an important opportunity for bi
|Contact: Winnie Serah Lim|
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore