Variant gene in prostate cancer identified

May 7, 2006 at 10:35 PM
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NEW YORK, May 7 (UPI) -- Scientists in Iceland report a breakthrough that may lead to a diagnostic test to help identify prime candidates for aggressive treatment for prostate cancer.

The discovery a variant gene associated with prostate cancer -- by the gene-finding company DeCode Genetics -- may also help explain why blacks have a greater incidence of the disease, The New York Times reported.

Detection of underlying genes implicated in prostate cancer is difficult because each gene seems to have only a small effect on the risk of getting the disease., the Times said. Several candidate genes have been identified in one family or population, but researchers have not had success in trying to replicate such findings in other populations.

The new variant, described online in the journal Nature Genetics, was first found in Icelandic men, said the Times, and then detected in Sweden and in two populations in the United States.

David Altshuler, a medical geneticist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., said the result was statistically convincing.

The variant -- carried by about 13 percent of men of European ancestry -- raises the risk of getting prostate cancer by 60 percent, compared with men who are not carriers, said the DeCode researchers. It also accounts for about 8 percent of all cases.

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