What can a new study of gene defects in cancer tell us? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Inherited genes for cancer may also predispose to a number of other health conditions, a new study shows. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says additional mutations acquired as a cancer develops also have a big influence.

Nelson: Usually in those cancers what’s happened is the inherited defect and then the other copy of the gene which would otherwise have been normal that copy is either now mutated or now lost. So the only copy remaining in the cancer is abnormal, so even when there’s an inherited susceptibility, almost always it’s accompanied by an acquired defect sometime at the other copy of the same gene, and then the cancers then get literally hundreds if not a thousand other gene defects typically by the time they grow to threaten life.  :31

Nelson says understanding the role of both inherited and acquired gene defects and their interaction is critical to comprehending a person’s cancer. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.