A major international study of the genetics of breast cancer carried out by the University of Cambridge has identified more than 350 DNA 'errors' that could increase an person’s risk of developing the disease. The scientists involved say these errors may influence as many as 190 genes. The results, which were published last Friday in the journal Nature Genetics, have provided the most comprehensive map of breast cancer risk variants to date. The researchers who came from over 450 departments and institutions worldwide, believe the findings will help provide the most detailed picture of how differences in DNA put some women at greater risk than others of developing breast cancer.
The study, which involves a new saliva test, has identify women who are most at risk of developing breast cancer and could be available within three years after researchers developed a groundbreaking genetic risk map for the disease and discovered 352 genetic mutations, spread across 190 genes, that increase the chance of developing breast cancer - a disease which effects one in eight women at some point and, in very rare cases, some men as well. The findings will allow for future blood or saliva test to identify women with the highest chance of getting the disease to become available at specialist health clinics within three to five years, the researchers said. It is also believed that the tests could also lead to better ways to treat and prevent breast cancer by helping to identifying key genes for scientists to investigate.
Alison Dunning, of the University of Cambridge, said: "This incredible haul of newly-discovered breast cancer genes will help us build up a much more detailed picture of how breast cancer arises and develops. A better understanding of these genes will provide much needed information about the biological triggers for breast cancer. And, in turn, that will lead to better prevention and treatment."