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Scientists ID Genes That Lose Expression in Solid Tumors

Discovery could form the basis for a new, early detection screen, study says

TUESDAY, Dec. 26, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Several tumor suppression genes whose expression is lost in four of the most common kinds of solid human cancers -- lung, breast, prostate and colon -- have been identified by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

The findings may help in the development of new screening methods for early detection of these cancers, the researchers said. The study was published online Dec. 25 in the Public Library of Science Medicine.

Loss of tumor-suppression gene expression can occur through a mutation in the gene's DNA sequence, through deletion of the gene, or as a result of methylation, a process where a chemical called a methyl group is attached to a DNA region near the gene and prevents it from being activated, according to background information in a news release.

In this study, the researchers identified genes that lost their tumor-suppression function as a result of methylation.

"The findings from our study suggest that it may be possible to develop a methylation profiling platform that could be used to screen patients for common solid tumors, while at the same time identify what type of tumor the patient may have," study author Dr. David Shames said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer.

SOURCE: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, news release, Dec. 25, 2006
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