Scientists discover unknown cause of cancer

December 7, 2019  23:45

Changes in the DNA that used to be called junk can influence the risk of cancer, international team of scientists found out. 

A previously unknown relationship between the non-coding part of the genome and malignant neoplasms is reported in a press release on EurekAlert!

Scientists examined 846 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in non-coding DNA regions, which are known for their association with cancer risk. Genetics analyzed the relationship between the presence of a specific SNP and gene activity. About 6 million different genetic variants in 13 tissues of the body were examined.

As it turned out, some SNPs are associated with oncogenes and genes that suppress tumor development. These changes affect the regions of DNA that regulate the immune system and tissue-specific processes. And minor mutations can function together to affect gene activity.

Specialists plan to continue research to develop artificial intelligence systems to better predict the risk of cancer.

Although non-coding DNA is often called junk, in recent years it has become clear that it performs regulatory functions and is responsible for the activity of certain genes. Moreover, it turned out that mutations in non-coding DNA almost as often cause autism as mutations in genes that disrupt protein activity.

Single nucleotide polymorphisms are substitutions of one nucleotide for another within a specific DNA fragment.

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