The authors of the study have also identified TERT as the gene susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer. This finding can add up to the recent study published in Nature Genetics, led by researchers Carlos López-Otín, from the University Institute of Oncology at the University of Oviedo, Elias Campo, from the Hospital Clínic /University of Barcelona, and Maria A. Blasco, the Director of CNIO, which relates the role of telomeres and their protective function of the genetic material with the development of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (http://www.cnio.es/es/news/docs/maria- blasco-nature-genetics-17mar13-es.pdf).
GENETIC HETEROGENEITY AS A CAUSE OF CANCER
According to researchers, a big surprise to come out of the study is the identification of thousands of additional genes than those described to date that, to a lesser extent, make someone more susceptible to cancer.
"In the case of breast cancer, we have discovered up to 1,000 genes that increase the risk of suffering the illness only very slightly, but when accumulated, they could explain its appearance in some patients," explains Benítez.
These results show the enormous complexity of cancer. One example would be hereditary breast cancer, which correlates in most cases with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These tumours, however, could be explained by the accumulation of multiple mutations in genes that when appearing alone slightly increase the risk of developing cancer. "These genes would explain why many families have these types of hereditary cancers without the presence of mutations in the BRCA genes," clarifies Benítez.
|Contact: Nuria Noriega|
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO)