The gene is thought to suppress the growth of tumours in healthy people. When mutations occur - perhaps caused by too much sun in the case of melanoma skin cancer - the gene no longer functions as it should, leading to the uncontrolled growth of some cells.
American researchers who matched mutations in the gene to different types of cancer said new drugs could be made that are specifically designed to overcome the genetic defects that lie behind the development of tumours.
Alexander Kamb, who led the research team from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and Myriad Genetics, a private company, said the discovery could lead to a cure for certain cancers, but this could be some years away. 'Obviously there's a pretty clear route to trying to develop a cancer treatment based on (the gene),' he said.Reuse content