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DNA test to identify prostate cancer risk

Tuesday June 12th, 2018

A new DNA test can identify 63 genetic variations linked to increased risk of prostate cancer, a major international study reported last night.

The findings of the research, which are published in Nature Genetics, says it is possible to identify 1% of men who are nearly six times more likely to develop prostate cancer than the population average because they will have inherited many the variants.

An international team of researchers led by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK, developed the Oncoarray, a new DNA test, to compare more than half a million single-letter changes in the DNA code of nearly 80,000 men with prostate cancer and more than 61,000 men without the disease.

The researchers identified 63 variants in DNA that will increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

Although each individual variant had only a small effect on risk, the combined effect of inheriting multiple variants could be dramatic.

The research team found many of the newly discovered genetic variants in the region of genes involved in communication between cells of the immune system and other cells in the body, which, they say, implies that genetic errors in immune pathways may be affecting prostate cancer risk.

Professor Ros Eeles, professor of oncogenetics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “By looking at the DNA code of tens of thousands of men in more depth than ever before, we have uncovered vital new information about the genetic factors that can predispose someone to prostate cancer, and, crucially, we have shown that information from more than 150 genetic variants can now be combined to provide a readout of a man’s inherited risk of prostate cancer.

“If we can tell from testing DNA how likely it is that a man will develop prostate cancer, the next step is to see if we can use that information to help prevent the disease.

“We now hope to begin a small study in GP practices to establish whether genetic testing using a simple spit test could select high-risk men who might benefit from interventions to identify the disease earlier or even reduce their risk.”

Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, added: “This new research is another big step forward that tells us more about why some men develop the disease and others don’t. We are on the cusp of moving from theory to practice – from explaining how genetics affects prostate cancer risk, to testing for genetic risk and attempting to prevent the disease.”

Researchers believe they can now account for almost 30% of a man’s inherited risk of prostate cancer, which may be enough to begin practical testing strategies.

Nature Genetics 11 June 2018

Tags: Cancer | Genetics | Men's Health | UK News | World Health

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