Indian-origin scientist spots new cancer gene mutations

New York, Sep 24 (IANS) In a discovery that could lead to more targeted and effective treatments for certain lung and prostate cancers, a team of researchers, led by an Indian-origin scientist, has identified two new cancer-causing gene mutations.

The researchers believe that cancers with the newly discovered mutations in the MCM8 and MCM9 genes will respond to certain drugs already approved by US Food and Drug Administration to treat breast cancers with the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

“One of the biggest problems in cancer is that we hit everything with the same hammer, and consequently some cancers are responsive and others are not. Imagine if you could find the perfect hammer for the nail – the famous personalised therapy,” said lead researcher Anindya Dutta, professor at University of Virginia School of Medicine in the US.

“If a patient has BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, then the perfect hammer is cisplatin and olaparib. Similarly, (for other cancers,) if you could break them up into those with mutations in MCM8 and MCM9, and then hit them hard with olaparib and cisplatin, we predict that there will be much better responsiveness,” Dutta noted.

As of now, there is no commercially available diagnostic test for the MCM8 and MCM9 mutations, though they could be revealed via whole genome sequencing.

Dutta, however, said that a much simpler test can be designed.

The findings have been detailed online in the journal Nature Communications.

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