A gene tied to the aging process has been linked to cancer by British scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research.
In a new study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the researchers said they have determined a genetic mutation that influences the aging process by acting as a cell's internal clock is also involved in the development of myeloma — one of the most common types of blood cancer.
Lead researcher Richard Houlston said the findings deepen scientists' understanding of the nature of cancer genetics and are a step toward new treatments that can one day be tailored to individual patients, based on their unique genetic makeup.
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"Our study has taken an important step forward in understanding the genetics of myeloma, and suggested an intriguing potential link with a gene that acts as a cell's internal timer," he said.
"We know cancer often seems to ignore the usual controls over aging and cell death, and it will be fascinating to explore whether in blood cancers that is a result of a direct genetic link. Eventually, understanding the complex genetics of blood cancers should allow us to assess a person's risk or identify new avenues for treatment."
Myeloma is caused by genetic mutations in white blood cells, which normally help fight infection and injury. More than half of those diagnosed with the disease survive more than five years; three in 10 die within a year, experts says.
One genetic marker found by the researchers is linked to a gene called TERC, which regulates the length of the telomere "caps" on the ends of DNA tied to cell death.
The team found the new markers by comparing the genetic makeup of 4,692 myeloma patients with DNA from 10,990 people without the disease.
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