Six Gene Loci Linked To Colorectal Cancer In East Asians

A large genome-wide association study (GWAS) in the East Asian population has identified six genetic loci linked to higher risk of colorectal cancer.

AsianScientist (May 22, 2014) – In the largest study of its kind to date, scientists have pinpointed six gene loci associated with higher risk of colorectal cancer in the East Asian population. This research has been published in Nature Genetics.

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality worldwide and is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in East Asia. Although lifestyle and diet play a part, genetics are also known to contribute to the development of the disease.

The present study is a follow up of a previous study published in 2012 by the Asia Colorectal Cancer Consortium and is double the sample size, including nearly 15,000 colorectal cancer cases and 32,000 controls. A four-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed on this large dataset, identifying six new loci linked to colorectal cancer.

Two of these loci map to genes (TCF7L2 and TGFB1) which are known to be involved with colorectal tumorigenesis through the Wnt and TGF-β signaling pathways. The four other loci are located close to genes involved in important biological processes such as transcriptional regulation (ZMIZ1), genome maintenance (FEN1), fatty acid metabolism (FADS1 and FADS2), cancer cell motility and metastasis (CD9) and cell growth and differentiation (NXN), but have not been previously linked with colorectal cancer.

The study authors hope that their research will contribute to the understanding of the genetic basis of colorectal cancer and elucidation of the mechanisms driving tumorigenesis.

The article can be found at: Zhang et al. (2014) Large-scale genetic study in East Asians identifies six new loci associated with colorectal cancer risk.


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Rebecca did her PhD at the National University of Singapore where she studied how macrophages integrate multiple signals from the toll-like receptor system. She was formerly the editor-in-chief of Asian Scientist Magazine.

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