For the first time, researchers from the UK have created pictures of the BRCA2 protein. Mutations in the gene that encodes this protein are well known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Uncovering the structure and mechanisms of the protein may pave the way for treatments targeting BRCA2 gene mutations, according to the investigators.
Around 45 percent of women who have a BRCA2 gene mutation will develop breast cancer by the time they are 70 years old, compared with 12 percent of women in the general population. While 1.4 percent of women in the general population will develop ovarian cancer at some point in their lives, this will happen for 11-17 percent of women with a BRCA2 gene mutation.
However, it has been challenging to develop treatments that target BRCA2 gene mutations.
Researchers know the BRCA2 protein plays a part in DNA repair. Any mutations in the gene that encodes the protein can hinder this repair process and cause cancer. However, the mechanisms behind the DNA repair activity of BRCA2 and the structure of the protein have remained a mystery, until now.
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