09 July 2007

Colon Cancer Gene Identified; Brain Cancer Vaccine OK'd

Came across a couple of interesting items on the cancer research front. First is news of the identification of a new gene associated with colon cancer. There is no genetic test for it yet, but I think it's safe to say that the subject came up in many biotech boardrooms around the world this morning.

Several studies published this month by research teams studying populations all over the world report finding a significant link between a gene on human chromosome 8 and the risk of developing colon cancer.

The results showed that people who carry a genetic variation known as the C allele of rs10505477 were 23 per cent more likely to have colon cancer than those without it. The genetic variant is located on a small area of chromosome 8 called 8q24.

The 8q24 link was particularly strong for those patients diagnosed with colon cancer before they reached the age of 50.

And how about this:

Gruber said the new discovery was particularly interesting when taken together with other recent findings about this genetic region in prostate and breast cancer:

"The same genetic region that predisposes to colon cancer has also recently been shown to be an important region predisposing to breast cancer and prostate cancer."

What's up with you, chromosome 8? Here's a list of other disorders associated with this rogue bundle of DNA. If you're less nerdy but want a good primer on chromosomal abnormalities, I think this page from the March of Dimes is pretty good.

And the second news item is something that has reached the treatment phase and can help people right now. It's the first brain cancer vaccine, which has been approved for use in Switzerland (press release). The vaccine is undergoing Phase II trials in the U.S.

That's the cancer update for today. Eat your fruits and vegetables and stay out of the sun.

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