Scientists have linked 110 genes to an increased risk of breast cancer in the most comprehensive study ever to unpick the genetics of the disease.
Their study used a pioneering genetic technique to analyse maps of DNA regions linked to an inherited risk of breast cancer and identify the actual genes involved in raising a woman’s risk.
Researchers also linked 32 of the new genes to the length of time women survived breast cancer – suggesting these could be important in the development of the disease and potential targets for future treatments.
Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, looked in detail at 63 areas of the genome that had previously been associated with the risk of breast cancer by mapping studies.
Finding the genes responsible for the increased risk is not straightforward because small sequences of DNA can interact with completely different parts of the genome through a strange phenomenon known as ‘DNA looping’.
But the researchers, funded by Breast Cancer Now, used a technique they developed called Capture Hi-C to study interactions between different regions of the genome.
The study – published today (Monday) in Nature Communications – uncovered which specific genes were involved and how that might increase a woman’s risk of
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