Researchers have discovered new genes associated with breast cancer and the new genetic variants are linked to breast cancer development. The study was initiated as the exact causes underlying the development of breast cancer are still unknown. There is a global effort to investigate the environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors that contribute to the disease.
The research presented in the journal Human Molecular Genetics analyzed the DNA of around 86,000 women of European ancestry, 12,000 of Asian, and 2,000 of African ancestry. About half of the women under analysis had breast cancer.
The genetic variants called rs10816625 and rs13294895 affect a gene known as KLF4, believed to be involved in the control of cellular growth and division.
The research involved a global collaboration of researchers from more than 130 institutions worldwide and researchers were looking for one-letter differences in DNA code that were more likely to be found in women with breast cancer than those without the disease, using a technique called ‘fine mapping’. They focused on a recently identified hotspot for genetic causes of breast cancer on chromosome 9.
The study found that women who carried the rs10816625 variant had an 12% greater chance of developing breast cancer. Women who carried the rs13294895 variant had a 9% increased risk of cancer.
“Our study zoomed in on an area of our genome that we knew was linked to breast cancer risk, and has identified two new genetic variants that add significantly to our knowledge about the genetic causes of the disease,” Dr. Nick Orr, senior researcher at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London.”The more genetic risk factors for breast cancer we discover, of which there are currently more than 80, the more accurately we will be able predict who is at risk of getting the disease. Ultimately, this will be vital for designing preventive strategies against breast cancer.”