Health

Researchers search for ways to counteract BRCA gene mutations and reduce pre-emptive mastectomies

Doctors hope to stop BRCA gene mutations in its tracks

NBC Universal, Inc.

Nearly half of all women carrying BRCA gene mutations will go on to develop lethal breast or ovarian cancer. But, new research has discovered a method to isolate those dangerous mutations, thereby finding a way to fix them.

When BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes work correctly, they repair damaged DNA. If they don’t — genetic mutations occur, increasing cancer risk. Groundbreaking research is studying BRCA gene mutations in the lab to find ways to counteract them.

“So, basically, we kind of created a particular mutant, and then which is defect the ubiquitin activity of BRCA1, and then, basically can knock down the activity of BRCA1,” said Dr. Weixing Zhao, assistant professor of Biochemistry at UT Health Science Center.

It’s critical for scientists to understand why the genes mutate and how to counteract the resulting effects.

“If it’s really bad, it might indicate that this individual will have some problem, sooner or later, right,” said Zhao

Because of BRCA’s deadly reputation, women have undergone pre-emptive radical mastectomies to minimize risk. But this study is aimed at developing precisely targeted cancer drugs possibly reducing the need for these surgeries.

“Helping the physician; the patient make a decision.”

BRCA1 studies have resulted in more than 14,000 research papers, but this latest breakthrough in recreating BRCA mutations through DNA sequencing for further analysis has real promise in stopping cancer in its tracks. 

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Bruce Maniscales, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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