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Gene links rare and unrelated cancers
Date:12/21/2011

or the development and behaviour of normal cells. The mutations we discovered do not totally destroy the function of DICER rather they warp itthe orchestra is still there but the conductor is drunk."

This finding is the third of a series of papers published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine in which the Ovarian Cancer Research team has used new genomic technologies to unlock the molecular basis of poorly understood types of ovarian cancer. This breakthrough is particularly pivotal because it could lead to solutions for treatment of more common cancers.

"Studying rare tumours not only is important for the patients and families who suffer from them but also provides unique opportunities to make discoveries critical to more common cancers both in terms of personalized medicine, but also in applying what we learn from how we manage rare diseases to more common and prevalent cancers," says Dr. Huntsman "The discovery of the DICER mutation in this varied group of rare tumours is the equivalent of finding not the needle in the haystack, but rather the same needle in many haystacks."

"This breakthrough will be of interest to both the clinical and the fundamental science communities," says Professor Phillip A. Sharp, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for the discovery of the structure of genes. "Huntsman, Morin and colleague's very exciting discovery of specific mutations in DICER, a factor essential for syntheses of small regulatory RNAs in ovarian and other human tumours, could lead to new approaches to treatment."

The research of the team is now working to determine the frequency and role of DICER mutations in other types of cancers and are expanding their collaboration to discover whether mutant DICER and pathways it controls can be modulated to treat both the rare cancers in which the mutations were discovered and more com
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Contact: Brian Lin
brian.lin@ubc.ca
604-822-2234
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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