Tags: dna | cancer | human | chimp

Why do Humans get Cancer? It's in our DNA

Monday, 27 Aug 2012 12:23 AM

Chimpanzees' DNA is nearly identical to humans, but they rarely get cancer. So why does cancer strike so many people? New research has identified key differences in certain DNA modifications, called methylation, that may hold the answer.

In a new study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers report they have discovered hundreds of genes that display different patterns of methylation between the two species linked to specific human diseases.

Because environmental factors can affect DNA methylation, these results might help researchers better understand how differences in genetics might make humans more vulnerable to cancer -- findings that could lead to new treatments.

DNA methylation doesn't change a cell's underlying genetic information, but can affect gene activity and affect processes such as aging and the development of disease.

"Our results hint, but by no means provide proof, that ... changes of chemical properties of DNA may be particularly important for some disease-related phenotypes that are pertinent to modern humans," said lead researcher Dr. Soojin Yi, from the Georgia Institute of Technology. "Such findings, in the long-term, may contribute to the development of better therapeutic targets for some human diseases."

© HealthDay

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New research has identified key differences in DNA between humans and chimps that may explain why we get cancer, and how to treat it.
Monday, 27 Aug 2012 12:23 AM
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