Researchers Discover New Gene Involved in Colon Cancer
Agroup of researchers led by Michael Liskay, professor of molecular
and medical genetics at Oregon Health Sciences University, has discovered
a second gene involved in a common form of familial colon cancer called
Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colon Cancer, or HNPCC. HNPCC accounts for as
many as 1 in 10 cases of colon and rectal cancer.
This study was an international collaboration among the Liskay
laboratory, including Eric Bronner and Sean Baker, and four other
laboratories--Richard Kolodner and Paul Morrison, at Dana-Farber Cancer
Institute; David Ward, at Yale University; Richard Fishel, at the
University of Vermont; and, Magnus Nordenskjold at the Karolinska
Hospital, in Stockholm, Sweden.
"The work not only has far-reaching implications for cancer diagnosis
and research, but again strongly underscores the value of basic scientific
research," says Dr. Liskay. "Research with yeast and bacteria, conducted
partly in our own laboratories, provided clues that were crucial for the
identification of this HNPCC gene lying on human chromosome number 3."
This HNPCC gene is involved in the correction, or repair, of faulty
DNA: "Many scientists suspect that other cancers, in addition to HNPCC,
might also exhibit defects in DNA mismatch repair," says Liskay.
"Most importantly, the discovery and isolation of this second HNPCC
gene should allow at the very least the development of new strategies for
disease prevention through early detection of these cancers.
Additionally, further basic research should enable us and others to
discover still other genes involved in building the mismatch repair
machine. In turn, these genes would represent new candidates for human
diseases such as cancer."
This discovery of a second HNPCC gene can lead to a more comprehensive
genetic diagnostic test, in which individuals at risk for familial colon
cancer may be screened for the presence of one of the HNPCC genes. First,
individuals carrying one of the mutant genes can be identified, and then
physicians can take early and aggressive preventive measures, thus
allowing more effective intervention in the growth of cancer before it