London: In what`s being hailed as a major breakthrough, scientists claim to have identified genes that can raise a person`s risk of developing multiple myeloma, an aggressive form of bone marrow cancer, by nearly 30 per cent.
It was already known that relatives of those suffering from the incurable cancer were at increased risk, but until now, no responsible gene had been identified.
Now, a team at the Institute of Cancer Research used a technique called a genome wide association study to scan the DNA of 1,675 patients with multiple myeloma. The same process was also carried out on around 5,900 healthy people.
When results were compared scientists discovered that two regions of the DNA that were more common in people with multiple myeloma and were therefore linked to a higher chance of developing the disease, the `Daily Mail` reported.
Prof Gareth Morgan from the ICR said the findings, are particularly important as the disease becomes more prevalent among an aging population.
"Multiple myeloma is an aggressive cancer that sadly has poor survival rates. By learning more about the biology of multiple myeloma development, we hope to identify new drug
targets -- or even existing drugs -- that could improve patient outcomes.
"Multiple myeloma is becoming more common as the population ages, and so it is even more important that we find new treatments," he said.
Myeloma, is a type of bone marrow cancer which affects plasma cells inside the bone marrow, which are an important part of the immune system. Usually it doesn`t exist as a lump or tumour and it is only when symptoms such as bone pain and fractures occur that a diagnosis is given.
Currently there`s no cure, but chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation can control its progression.