Cancer affects everyone in some way. In Alberta, Canada, 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 4 will die from it. In 2001, the Tomorrow Project, the largest research study ever undertaken in Alberta was established to discover more about what causes cancer, so that it may be prevented in the future. Information provided by people who join the Tomorrow Project may also be used to learn more about other long-term health conditions.
DNA Genotek's Sample Collection Blog
It has been just over a month since we received all the applications for the DNA Genotek Grant Program. We were thrilled with both the quality and the quantity of the applications we received and our selection committee has been extremely busy reviewing them carefully.
Professor Gareth Evans of the University of Manchester is heading up a major research study, which is being carried out throughout Greater Manchester. 60,000 women are being invited to join a study, named PROCAS, which aims to predict breast cancer risk for women who attend routine NHS breast screening in Greater Manchester. A woman’s risk is assessed by collecting extra information on each of the most important breast cancer risk factors – family history, lifestyle factors, breast density and genetics.
“Movember” (the month formerly known as November) is a moustache growing charity event held throughout November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health. Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces around the world. Since its humble beginnings in Melbourne Australia, Movember has grown to become a truly global movement inspiring more than 1.1 Million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate, with formal campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Ireland. In addition Mo Bros and Mo Sistas support the campaign and men’s health cause across the globe, from Russia to Dubai, Hong Kong to Antarctica, Rio de Janeiro to Mumbai, and everywhere in between.
A host of familial cancer syndromes have been described in which several members of the same family develop cancer at a young age due to an inherited genetic susceptibility. It has been well established that germline mutations in the DNA sequence of genes that are protective against cancer, including tumour suppressor and DNA repair genes, are the culprit in most familial cases of cancer. Because they are inherited, these germline mutations are present in every cell of the body from conception into adulthood, knocking out one of the two copies of the protective gene. They confer a high risk of cancer development at a young age, although the cancer itself arises when the remaining normally-functioning copy of the gene is knocked out in susceptible tissues due to contributing environmental conditions, taking with it the last remnants of protection it once afforded against cancer. However, for a number of individuals with young-onset cancer, as well as entire families, the inherited defect remains unidentified, which complicates genetic counselling and clinical management of family members. Lynch syndrome is the most common of all family cancer syndromes, in which patients develop a range of cancers, the most frequent of which are colorectal and uterine cancers. Lynch syndrome is usually caused by germline mutations within one of the four genes that encode the mismatch repair system, most commonly MLH1 or MSH2. Loss of protection from the mismatch repair system results in the accumulation of mutations during cell division, and ultimately, cancer ensues. However, in about a third of Lynch syndrome patients, standard genetic screening fails to identify any pathogenic sequence change within the mismatch repair genes that might be responsible for their disease.
Recent statistics suggest cancer mortality rates are declining due to better prevention, early detection methods and improved treatments, yet so much remains to be done. With cutting-edge research continually pushing the boundaries of science and discovery, it is not surprising that an increasing number of cancer researchers are turning to the newest tool in the DNA collection toolbox - DNA from saliva.
Every day, it seems, scientists learn something new about how our genes work. One fascinating area of research involves understanding the role of our genes in the initiation, progression and treatment of diseases; such as cancer. Understanding cancer on a molecular and genetic level makes for good science and good medicine. We understand that all cancers are not created equally. From the moment you are conceived, your genes may increase your susceptibility to developing certain cancers or, later on, your environmental exposures or other factors may cause changes in your genes that cause cancer to develop. Cancer is not one disease, but many, adding to the complexity and breadth of studies.