December 9 2013 at 10:15am By Daily Mail
London - Thousands of people with cancer could be given better treatments after British scientists found a gene that makes tumours grow.
The “needle in a haystack” find offers hope to at least one in 100 patients – or 3 000 a year.
Unusually, it doesn’t only apply to one type of cancer. The rogue DNA can fuel almost all forms of the disease, which kills more than 150 000 Britons every year.
Within a few years, patients could be tested for the gene and given drugs to slow cancer.
Professor Paul Workman, of London’s Institute of Cancer Research, said: “This discovery will help us target these drugs to a new group of patients and could have a dramatic effect on the life of many cancer sufferers.”
The researchers, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge, analysed the DNA of more than 7 500 cancer patients.
They found a gene called CUX1 in many patients, including those with breast cancer and a form of leukaemia that is currently very hard to treat, according to the study in journal Nature Genetics.
Usually, it takes many years for a genetic breakthrough to lead to a treatment. However, drugs that target the faulty CUX1 gene are already in use, meaning patients could benefit within a few years.