1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Mary-Claire King: The Quest for the Cancer-Causing Gene

Discussion in 'GD Archive' started by MindYerBeak, 10 Dec 2002.

  1. MindYerBeak

    Soldato

    Joined: 17 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,328

    In 1990, Dr. Mary-Claire King, a professor at the University of California, made one of the most important cancer discoveries in modern times when she demonstrated that breast cancer within families was passed on by a specific gene. Although King actually did not find the gene, her research overturned an inaccurate, prevailing theory about hereditary diseases, paving the way for a better understanding of how inherited genetic mutations cause cancer.

    Before King's discovery, scientists thought several genes interacted with certain environmental factors to cause breast cancer and other hereditary diseases, making it all but impossible for geneticists to identify who was likely to become ill. King, whose best friend died of kidney cancer in her early adolescence, was determined to improve the odds of survival. For 15 years, King studied DNA from women with family histories of breast cancer, looking for markers--genes always on the same chromosome as the cancer-causing gene. If the same marker pattern repeated in different DNA samples, King felt it might indicate a mutated gene was being passed on.

    King compared her work to "looking for an address in a strange town at night, with street lights every ten blocks." The team looked at 183 possible markers before they found a match, which led them to a region on the 17th chromosome that consistently was altered in women with cancer. They were unable to point to the actual gene, however. They could suggest only that it existed in that general area.

    When another researcher confirmed King's findings, an international race began to find and then clone "King's gene." Mark Skolnick, a scientist at the University of Utah and a longtime rival of King's, narrowed down the location to smaller and smaller regions of DNA, eventually locating the gene in 1994. Today, researchers have a much-improved understanding of how mutated genes cause hereditary breast cancer, which may soon lead to more effective treatment of the deadly disease.
     
  2. |penance|

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 2 Dec 2002

    Posts: 119

    Location: Bristol

    very poinient for me.
    a good post MYB
     
  3. gjrc

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,816

    Location: London

    pioneering work of such huge importance.

    heres to hoping for better more effective treatment or hope upon hope, a cure!!

    nice post myb
     
  4. gjrc

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,816

    Location: London

    me as well. i should think there are not many people who have not been affected by cancer in one way or another
     
  5. PurDunamis

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 1,179

    Location: Messing with a Nd:YAG, DCM and a Raman Shifter

    Five stars and a free bump - another interesting post Mr MYB
     
  6. tom_nieto

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 11,015

    Location: Birmingham

    You learn something everyday, and it certainly wasn't from my lecture on fungi :D

    Cheers MYB
     
  7. |penance|

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 2 Dec 2002

    Posts: 119

    Location: Bristol

    yup i guess your right there m8

    this time of year it becomes more at the front of thoughts
     
  8. sedm1000

    Mobster

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 3,244

    I dont think it was actually that important a discovery. Whilst it is true that one/two mutations are responsible for ~75% of cases, many other genes are linked to breast cancer suceptibility - as are environmental factors. The link was waiting to be made, and she was in the right place at the right time. 12 years on, it has still not improved breast cancer detection or survival rates.

    Nice story, but made very media friendly.
     
  9. hilo100

    Gangster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 258

    Cancer !!!!! - :(

    Lost My Mum To Cancer a while ago.

    Seems they have the means to fight it, but the price tag is too great.

    More Research = More Money - Nuff Said :mad: !!!.



    Chris
     
  10. |penance|

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 2 Dec 2002

    Posts: 119

    Location: Bristol

    same here m8, 6 year ago
    but dont blame the research, just cuz they can cure some it doesnt mean all
    honestly m8, sometimes there is just nothing that can be done
     
  11. checjb

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,386

    Location: Royston, Herts

    I lost my aunt and two of my grandparents to cancers so I can appreciate the hurt that they cause but the fact is that it is such a huge area that the technical challenges involved in curing cancers are huge. It is amazing just how many people think that there is only one form of cancer. If it was that simple then researchers (like I used to be) would have a much easier time of it. The simple truth is that cancer as a group of diseases are going to take a long time to beat and whilst every breakthrough may not seem very important, it all adds to the knowledge base and so is a step, howver small, towards a range of cures for all the forms.

    In my house every spare coin goes into a pot for cancer research. Remember every little helps.

    Here endeth the sermon :rolleyes: :D

    My heart and hopes go out to everyone who is, or who knows someone, cursed by these diseases.

    C
     
  12. Sp00n

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 18,143

    Location: Brighton

    Superb post MYB :) 5 stars :)