Researchers have found a genetic variant associated with increased risk of urinary bladder cancer, according to a study published online this week in Nature Genetics.
One of the more tantalizing stories to emerge from recent genetic association studies of cancer has been that a series of variants in a small region on chromosome 8 predispose to a range of cancers, including those of the prostate, colon and breast.
Kari Stefansson and colleagues carried out a genome-wide association study of bladder cancer, and found a variant in the same region to confer extra risk of this disease, but not of any of the other cancers. The previously reported variants are near the gene MYC, which encodes a protein whose deregulation is known to be associated with malignant growth. The susceptibility variant for bladder cancer is even closer to MYC, strengthening the case that these risk variants might affect cancer risk by altering the expression of MYC.
The team were unable to find functional evidence for altered MYC expression in blood or fat tissue from individuals with bladder cancer, however, indicating that further work will be needed to explain the role of this region in cancer susceptibility.