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Ovarian Cancer Breakthrough Heralds New Era of Treatment
Date:6/10/2009

Scientists identify cause of deadly tumors and predict life-saving developments could follow

WEDNESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- Canadian researchers have zeroed in on the cause of a deadly type of ovarian cancer, a finding that could lead to successful treatment of the rare granulosa cell tumors.

The culprit is a single mutation out of 3 billion nucleotide pairs that make up the genetic code of the tumor. The mutation is present in every granulosa cell tumor, a rare and often untreatable form of ovarian cancer that affects about 5 percent of ovarian cancer patients, according to a study that appears in the June 10 online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The discovery, made using state-of-the-art gene-sequencing technologies, may mark the beginning of a new era of cancer genomics, in which the complete genetic sequence of cancers and the mutations that cause them can be identified, researchers said.

For women with granulosa cell tumors, the precise identification of the mutation may help in developing new, badly needed treatments.

"This is really a two-fold discovery," said lead study author Dr. David Hunstman, a genetic pathologist at the BC Cancer Agency and Vancouver General Hospital and an associate professor at the University of British Columbia.

"It clearly shows the power of the new generation of DNA sequencing technologies to impact clinical medicine, and for those of us in the area of ovarian cancer research and care, by identifying the singular mutation that causes granulosa cell tumors, we can now more easily identify them and develop new ways to treat them," he added in a university news release.

In the study, researchers decoded four granulosa cell tumors using "next generation" sequencing machines that decode billions of nucleotides at rapid speed and new computer techniques to quickly assemble the data.

While most types of cancer, incl
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