Washington: Scientists claim to have for the first time genetically sequenced the most common form of bladder cancer -- urothelial (transitional) carcinoma.
An international team claims that recognising the genetic mutations that make bladder cancer cells different than their healthy neighbours may pave the way for early screenings and new treatments for the disease,`Nature Genetics` journal said.
In addition, the mutations the team found are similar to those recently discovered in a host of other cancers, implying a possible common denominator in cause of cancer in general.
Specifically, in 59 percent of 97 patients with urothelial carcinoma, the team found mutations in genes responsible for chromatin remodelling -- the process of packaging DNA for easy duplication during cell division.
"The discovery of mutation in the UTX gene and seven similar chromatin remodeling genes is a major step toward genetic testing and treatment of bladder cancer," said Dan Theodorescu of the University of Colorado, who led the team.
The research also provides the first-ever overview of the genetic basis of urothelial bladder cancer and implicates chromatin remodelling in its cause.
"When we talk about `causes` of cancer, there`s a black box between a healthy cell and the emergence of cancerous ones. By exploring the genetic changes that take place inside this box, we can look at the links of the chain of events that lead to cancer and hopefully target specific links for therapy," Theodorescu said.
In the development of bladder cancer, this study shows that chromatin remodelling is an important link. "We are currently well underway in performing similar sequencing with Caucasian subjects to determine if the mutations in the Caucasian population are similar to those seen in this study`s Asian subjects," Theodorescu said.