Friday June 21, 2019

Celebrate February 4 As World Cancer Day

In India, the application of cancer genetic testing in therapeutic decisions has seen tremendous increase particularly in lung, breast, gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

The gene is a unit of inheritance of our DNA that determines our characteristics including physical, behavioural and clinical and the term ‘hereditary’ means passed from the genes of a parent to the child. In cancer genetics, often these terms are used interchangeably.

The majority of us have a perception of genetics in the terms of hereditary lineage. However, there are quite of few gene mutations which are not inherited but acquired during the course of individual’s life due to a set of predisposing events or lifestyle habits.

This brings us to the question: “What can genetics do in cancer apart from telling the hereditary predisposition and vulnerability to cancer?” The answer is the D-P-T (Diagnosis-Prognosis-Therapeutics) Triangle.

For example: A 63-year-old man develops lung cancer without having any first/second degree relatives diagnosed with cancer. These are sporadic cancers constituting more than 85 per cent of all newly-diagnosed cancers. Scientific research has contributed significantly to our understanding of lung cancer, its onset and the importance of screening cancer-causing genes for mutations which helps physicians to provide targeted therapy to kill or overcome cancer.

Cancer genetics: Beyond hereditary cancer (Health Notes) (February 4 is World Cancer Day).

The presence of EGFR gene mutation in lung cancer implies that one particular class of anti-cancer drugs are highly effective in killing lung cancer cells and thus improving the quality of life and survival of a patient. Beyond this, research identified a subsequent secondary mutation in the EGFR gene in patients who are already on targeted drug. These mutations make the cancer cells resistant to the drug.

To address this challenge, fourth generation drugs are in the pipeline that could specifically kill those cancer cells that have developed resistance to the first, second and third generation drugs. This is a classic example of how genetic testing has helped in treatment planning and management of the cancer and is an example of cancer genetics beyond heredity.

* Cancer genetics in diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis of a type or subtype of cancer can be helpful to better manage the disease. There are multiple other cases where mutation in genes confirm the diagnosis and hence guide the further course of action. For example, in leukemia, there are a set of genes, if mutated, that help in distinguishing myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN – a type of leukemia) from other benign causes of cytopenias (reduction of mature blood cells).

* Cancer genetics in prognosis

Prognosis in simple terms mean prediction of how the disease is going to progress. This application is helpful to understand whether the disease requires aggressive treatment or not. For example: There is a standard recommendation of IGHV gene mutation testing in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.If this gene is mutated, clinical studies have shown that these patients do not show an aggressive disease phenotype and hence may not require aggressive treatment. However, for patients who are not mutated for the IGHV gene, clinical studies have shown that the disease progresses aggressively and the treatment regimen could be re-worked for improving the quality of life and survival of these patients.

Cancer survivor, flickr

* Cancer genetics in therapeutics

The term targeted therapy would not be the same in cancer, if not for genetics.There are some genes which help in treatment decision called oncogenes/tumor suppressors, wherein a sporadic mutation changes the function of the gene-inducing cellular processes leading to uncontrolled cell division causing cancer. This intrinsic property of the cancer cell is advantageous to drug manufacturers for developing molecules that block the protein and inhibit cancer progression or kill the cancer cells.

Also Read- Here’s How The Microbes Help You Make a Perfect Cup of Coffee

In India, the application of cancer genetic testing in therapeutic decisions has seen tremendous increase particularly in lung, breast, gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers. (IANS)

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Researchers Identify Gene Linked to Obesity in Children

Approximately 70 per cent of the human population carries at least one variant of this polymorphism, which is associated with an increased risk of obesity

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Researchers have identified a common gene variant that increases the risk of obesity in children.
In a study published in Obesity journal, the researchers from University of Columbia found that a specific variant (single nucleotide polymorphism) of a gene called “FTO” affects eating behaviour that may be predictive of subsequent weight gain in children, who are at obesity risk.
“Early identification of the physiology and behaviours that constitute early risk factors for subsequent weight gain will help inform best practices for intervention and prevention of obesity in children,” said study author Michael Rosenbaum, a professor at Columbia University.
“This study shows that even before the development of an obese phenotype, children at risk, in this case by virtue of a common genetic variant, exhibit increased food intake,” added Rosenbaum.
For the study, the researchers included 122 children in the 5-10 year age group.
Obesity can now be cured by our body's natural weighing scales.
Obesity can now be cured by our body’s natural weighing scales.
The study discovered that children who are at risk of obesity due to this genetic variant had an increased calorie intake which may contribute to gaining excess weight.
“Even though 65 calories is not a lot per se, if this pattern generalized to multiple meals per week or day, this increased caloric intake can add up over time and may contribute to gaining excess weight,” said Rosenbaum.
According to the researchers, the report could be used to further study children at obesity risk for other reasons.
“The ultimate goal is to prevent the at-risk child or the child who has obesity from becoming an adult with obesity,” added Rosenbaum.
Approximately 70 per cent of the human population carries at least one variant of this polymorphism, which is associated with an increased risk of obesity. (IANS)