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Gene may prevent ovarian cancer

A gene which, when working properly, may have the ability to stop the development of ovarian cancer, according to researchers.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 26, 2003 13:30 IST

A gene which, when working properly, may have the ability to stop the development of ovarian cancer, according to researchers.

The scientists found that the gene was not functioning correctly in nine out of 10 cancer tissue samples, according to a report in BBC.

When the gene is turned back on within the cancer cells, further growth is suppressed, suggesting it is influential in the body's defences against the tumour. However, it will be some time before the findings translate into new drugs or tests for women.

Ovarian cancer is one of the most dangerous for women, as it is often not diagnosed early, making treatment much more difficult, the report said.

The human body has a variety of defence systems, which it uses to carry out repairs when abnormal cells develop. When these defences fail, or are circumvented, the result can be development of tumours.

One of the ways cancer gets a foothold in the body is to somehow "switch off" genes which would normally prevent such abnormal cells from either growing or dividing. The scientists involved in this project believe the gene they are investigating — called OPCML — may be one of these.

Their hope is to either find a way to turn the gene back on in human ovarian tumours or find a drug which mimics the biological effects of the activity of the gene, the report added.

Dr Hani Gabra, who led the project at Cancer Research UK's oncology unit in Edinburgh, said, "It takes us further in the urgent quest to find a method for earlier diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer.

“We now need to work on understanding more about this gene and exactly how it works and what makes it switch off".

First Published: Jun 23, 2003 02:39 IST