London: British scientists have discovered more than 400 “blind spots” in DNA which could hide cancer-causing gene faults.
The team from Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute found hidden faults in areas that are tricky for gene-reading technology to decode.
This could be a step towards developing tests to spot cancers earlier or provide new tactics for discovering future cancer treatments.
“By delving deeper into cancer's genetic origins we can spot the ways the disease is triggered and develops. This could help us to tackle it from the root, giving more cancer patients a chance at surviving the disease,” explained Nell Barrie, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK.
For the study, the team compared two giant gene databases made from cancer cells grown in labs and cross-checked all the genes that are known - or are likely to be - involved in cancer to unearth the problem areas.
They found that the 400 blind spots in the genes were hidden in very repetitive DNA areas which cause the gene-reading technology to stutter.
This problem reading the genes could conceal mistakes which might play a vital role in cancer.
“The next step in our work will be to find a way to open up these areas to help piece together the full story,” lead researcher Andrew Hudson added.
The work was published in the journal Cancer Research.