Scientists have concluded that BRCA1, the human breast cancer gene, is a true “suppressor gene” and causes cancer only when it mutates to yield to a faulty protein. Two research teams have discovered that the same genes can halt or shrink the growth of human breast and ovarian cancers, and even make some tumors disappear. The experiments used human cancer cells transplanted into laboratory mice but were considered a major advance raising new possibilities to drugs and gene therapy for types of breast and ovarian tumors.
One research team was led by University of Washington geneticist Dr. Mary-Claire King, who pinpointed the location of the breast cancer gene five years ago in a lab at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Jeffery Holt , a cell biologist at Vanderbilt University, lead the other team. Their findings are reported in the March issue of the journal Nature Genetics