Scientists find 50 new genomic regions linked to kidney cancer risk

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Researchers have made a significant breakthrough in understanding the genetic factors that increase the risk of developing kidney cancer.

In a comprehensive study led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists have pinpointed 50 new genetic regions linked to kidney cancer.

This finding, published in the journal Nature Genetics, expands the total number of known risk areas to 63 and marks a major step forward in the fight against this disease.

Previously, genetic studies focused mainly on people of European descent, identifying 13 regions associated with kidney cancer risk. However, these studies lacked diversity.

Recognizing this gap, the research team broadened their scope to include individuals of various genetic backgrounds.

They conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) involving 29,020 people diagnosed with kidney cancer and 835,670 without the disease. This diverse study sample provided a richer, more comprehensive set of genetic data.

The analysis revealed 50 new genetic regions associated with kidney cancer risk. Some of these regions are linked to the development of papillary renal cell carcinoma, which is the second most common subtype of the disease.

Additionally, a particular genetic variant in the VHL gene, more prevalent among individuals of African ancestry, was found to triple the risk of developing clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer.

The significance of these findings extends beyond just identifying risk factors. They enhance our understanding of the molecular basis of kidney cancer and could lead to improvements in how we screen for and treat the disease.

For example, knowing these genetic markers can help identify individuals at high risk, allowing for earlier detection and intervention.

Moreover, the study’s findings have enabled the creation of a polygenic risk score. This score, when combined with other known risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, and obesity, could significantly improve our ability to predict who is most likely to develop kidney cancer.

This predictive tool could be particularly useful in tailoring screening and prevention strategies to those at greatest risk.

In summary, this research not only broadens our genetic knowledge of kidney cancer but also holds promise for developing personalized medical strategies.

It could lead to more targeted screening efforts and the identification of new drug targets, potentially transforming the way we manage kidney cancer in the future.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies that plant-based diets may reduce risk of colorectal cancer in men, and Low-fat diet may help stop cancer growth.

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The research findings can be found in Nature Genetics.

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