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'Personalized' genome sequencing reveals coding error in gene for inherited pancreatic cancer
Date:3/5/2009

Scientists at the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have used "personalized genome" sequencing on an individual with a hereditary form of pancreatic cancer to locate a mutation in a gene called PALB2 that is responsible for initiating the disease. The discovery marks their first use of a genome scanning system to uncover suspect mutations in normal inherited genes.

The findings, they say, underscore the value of so-called "personalized genome" sequencing, which decodes a person's genes and compares the changes to those found in healthy people. "Gene sequencing has always had the potential to help us learn if a person is susceptible to certain diseases," says Alison Klein, Ph.D., director of the National Familial Pancreas Cancer Tumor Registry at Johns Hopkins. "By finding the genetic error responsible for this patient's pancreatic cancer, our team has provided an excellent example of the power of this approach."

The coding error in PALB2, which stands for "partner and co-localizer of BRCA2" causes a shortened version of the protein encoded by this gene, rendering it incapable of working with another cancer-related gene, BRCA2, to repair broken DNA. Mutations in BRCA2 are also known to cause hereditary forms of cancer.

Klein and her team caution that their finding has not yet resulted in a clinical test for the hereditary pancreas cancer gene, but laboratories at Johns Hopkins and possibly elsewhere will be developing one, which she says can be used to increase cancer surveillance for early signs of disease in those at risk.

Reporting their findings in the March 5 edition of Science Express, the Johns Hopkins researchers say they sequenced genes taken from a person with pancreatic cancer whose sister also had the disease, suggesting an inherited predisposition. "Generally, we need data from very large families to identify the inherited gene, and that was not
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wastava@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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