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Inherited gene important in ovarian cancer

A gene causes significant complications in ovarian cancer. A gene implicated in inherited ovarian cancer is more significant in the disease than previously realised. Up to 10 per cent of cases of ovarian cancer arise from a mutation in a gene called BRCA1.// In these cases, the woman usually has a strong family history of the disease. We know that BRCA1 prevents tumours from developing, although it's not yet known in detail how it works.

Now doctors at the University of Iowa have shown that BRCA1 malfunctions in up to a quarter of all ovarian cancers. New genetic tests reveal that the gene may be lost, even in women with no previous family history of cancer. We each inherit two copies of all genes - one from the father, one from the mother. It only takes one copy of BRCA1 to be lost for cancer protection to be reduced. It's possible for genes to be lost due to a malfunctioning when cells divide - this can happen even if you inherit two normal copies.

The study shows that BRCA1 is more significant in ovarian cancer than previously realised. This opens the door to new therapies for this hard-to-treat cancer - drugs which restore BRCA1 function, for example.


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