Ovarian Cancer Gene Discovered
Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest of all diseases that affect
women, as there are few effective treatments. However, a recent
genetic discovery may change that.
U.S. scientists have recently identified a gene that seems to be
responsible for the development of ovarian cancer. The gene is
known as PIK3CA. Ovarian tumor cells have been found with extra
copies of PIK3CA. Normal cells are genetically pre-programmed
to produce new copies of themselves and then die out. This
maintains the number of cells in an organ. The PIK3CA gene
produces enzymes that cause ovarian cells to grow out of control
and mutate. The abnormal cells do not die off within a certain
period of time, as normal cells do. The mutated cells lead to tumor
formation and spread throughout the body.
Unlike many genetic findings in cancer, this gene does not
determine a woman's risk factor for developing ovarian cancer.
The identification of the gene and its enzyme could lead to future
treatments for ovarian cancer. Now that scientists have a specific
enzyme that causes the cancerous growth in ovaries, they also can
determine its exact shape and structure. From there, they can
develop new drugs with structures that mirror the enzymes. These
drugs would be able to "fit" into that enzyme's structure like a key in
a lock. This strategy is often used in medicine and pharmacology
to disable enzymes or other biochemicals. If it works, there will be
no more usable enzyme and no more cancer.