Gene Discovered That Links Liver Cancer With Hepatitis C Infection
Researchers have identified a gene which increases one’s chances of developing hepatocellular carcinoma when infected with the hepatitis C virus.
AsianScientist (Jul. 4, 2011) – A genome-wide study by Japanese researchers has identified a gene which increases one’s chances of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) when infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer, is the third leading cancer-related cause of death and the seventh most common form of cancer worldwide. The hepatitis C virus is the main risk factor for developing hepatocellular carcinoma in many western countries and in Japan, which sees more than 30,000 deaths each year from HCC. The virus is implicated in seventy percent of these deaths.
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine, Hiroshima University Hospital and Sapporo-Kosei General Hospital in Japan carried out a study of 3,312 Japanese individuals carrying the hepatitis C virus.
Analyzing a total of 467,538 genetic markers called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a group of 212 HCV carriers with HCC and 765 HCV carriers without HCC, the group uncovered one SNP associated with HCC risk, located on a gene called DEPDC5. The association was confirmed in an independent replication study on a population of 2335 HVC carriers, 710 with HCC and 1625 without HCC.
The significance of the findings remained when the researchers adjusted their results for gender, age, and platelet count. It appeared that among Japanese individuals with chronic HCV infection, the DEPDC5 SNP roughly doubles the odds of developing HCC.
The discovery of the DEPDC5 SNP locus may provide a valuable target for new therapy techniques, the researchers say.
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