NIH To Investigate Causes of Breast, Prostate Cancers
NIH announced on Monday that it will spend $14 million over three years to investigate the genetic causes of breast and prostate cancers in an effort to develop new techniques for detecting, preventing and treating the diseases, the Baltimore Sun reports. Researchers will launch the "Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility" project by reviewing 2,500 DNA samples to identify genetic mutations that cause most cases of prostate cancer. San Diego-based Illumina will review the samples.
After work on the prostate cancer samples is completed, the researchers will begin studying the genetic causes of breast cancer. Researchers have singled out single gene mutations that cause cancer, but those mutations are linked only to inherited cases, a small proportion of total cases.
The goal is to identify the alterations that increase the risk for most prostate and breast cancer cases, which are the second-leading causes of death in men and women, respectively, each year. The two diseases caused 71,000 deaths in the U.S. last year.
According to NIH, the project will be followed by larger studies to confirm the results. The agency also will post all results on the Internet to help encourage additional research (Rockoff, Baltimore Sun, 2/14).