Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have identified a new tumour suppressor gene, mutations in which appear to underlie at least 1% of all cancers.
Using genetic data on over 7,500 cancer patients from the International Cancer Genome Constortium (ICGC) and other groups, the researchers found that the transcription factor gene CUX1 contained inactivating mutations in 1-5% of cancers. Whilst previous identified cancer driver mutations have shown higher rates of mutation, the CUX1 gene was nevertheless mutated in multiple different types of cancers and is concluded to represent a cross-cutting cancer-linked gene.
Promisingly, drugs that inhibit the tumour growth stimulating biological pathway activated by CUX1 gene deactivation are already in clinical trials and could represent a potential new therapeutic option for cancer patients with CUX1 mutations.
Lead author Dr David Adams observed: "Our research is a prime example of how understanding the genetic code of cancers can drive the search for targeted cancer therapies that work more effectively and efficiently…This could improve the lives of thousands of people suffering from cancer".