Scientists discover gene that could help protect against ovarian cancer

DNA found in mice could help women if it plays similar role in humans

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The Independent Online

Scientists have discovered a gene in mice that could help protect against ovarian cancer.

The gene, known as Helq, repairs damage to DNA, which occurs when it is copied as cells multiply. If the gene is missing or faulty, it could increase the chance of developing the disease, according to research published in Nature.

Mice without either of the two copies of the Helq gene were twice has likely to develop ovarian tumours, the team from Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute found.

“Our findings show that if there are problems with the Helq gene in mice it increases the chance of them developing ovarian and other tumours,” Dr Simon Boulton, the study’s senior author said.

“This is an exciting finding because this might also be true for women with errors in Helq, and the next step will be to see if this is the case.”

“If it plays a similar role in humans, this may open up the possibility that, in the future, women could be screened for errors in the Helq gene that might increase their risk of ovarian cancer.”

In the UK around 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year and around 4,300 die from the disease.