The likelihood of developing ovarian cancer is greatly enhanced by a faulty gene, scientists have discovered.
The RAD51D gene can raise the risk of the disease six-fold, giving a woman more than a one in 11 chance of developing the cancer.
Cancer Research UK said it was a “landmark” discovery, with researchers stating that the findings pave the way for an early diagnostic test which could be available within two years.
Women with the faulty gene should benefit from a new class of anti-cancer drug, experts at the Institute of Cancer Research in London said.
The drugs, called PARP inhibitors, are undergoing clinical trials. They work by targeting BRCA 1 and 2 ovarian and breast cancer genes. Other genes have also been found to contribute to the disease, but not to the same extent as the RAD51D gene.
Quoted in the journal Nature Genetics, study author Professor Nazneen Rahman, head of the division of genetics and epidemiology at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: “We are very excited by this discovery. We’re now entering a new era of gene sequencing and it’s quite clear that we’re going to find a lot more genes like this in the future.”
- Alders M, et al. Mutations in CCBE1 cause generalized lymph vessel dysplasia in humans. Nature 2011; Advance online publication