Researchers in the UK have identified a gene in mice that, if faulty, may increase the chance of developing a rare type of ovarian cancer. The findings were published in the journal Nature.
The gene, known as Helq, helps repair damage to DNA that happens when it is copied as cells multiply. If the gene is missing or faulty, DNA errors could mount up, increasing the chance of cancer developing.
The team of researchers from Cancer Research UK found that mice without either of the two copies of the Helq gene were twice as likely to develop ovarian tumors, as well as becoming less fertile.
If the findings of this study are confirmed in studies in humans, one day women may be screened for errors in the Helq gene that might increase their risk of rare granulosa and sex-cord stromal ovarian tumors (not the more common epithelial ovarian carcinoma) .