‘Major breakthrough’ in fight against breast cancer

New research could lead to effective treatments and save thousands of lives

It has long been known that defects in a gene called BRCA1, which is carried by one in 800 women, increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers by up to 85%.
 
But not until know has it been understood why the faulty BRCA1 gene puts women at such high risk of developing aggressive cancers.

Dr Kevin Hiom, who led a three-year study at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, told the Telegraph: ‘We found that faulty BCRA1 has a ‘working relationship’ with the protein CtlP which helps it to repair DNA accurately. If you are lacking BRAC1 then it is unable to repair damaged DNA which can lead to tumours.’

‘Our findings help us to understand how breaks in DNA strands can be repaired in a way that preserves our genetic code so that harmful mutations, which may lead to cancer, are kept to a minimum.’

Dr Hiom, who has been working on the project since 2006, said this discovery, ‘gives us a better chance of finding the right treatment or prevention. If you can understand how these things work better you can find their Achilles’ heel.’

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