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A New Marker for Breast Cancer


Researchers at Imperial College London have discovered a new biomarker for breast cancer risk, reports The Guardian's Ben Quinn. In a new study published in Cancer Research, the researchers analyzed blood samples from 1,380 women, 640 of whom later developed breast cancer, Quinn says. They found a strong link between mutations in a white blood cell gene called ATM and risk in those 1,380 women. The researchers looked for evidence of methylation, and found that the women with the highest levels of methylation in ATM were twice as likely to develop breast cancer as women with low methylation levels, Quinn says. "On average, the blood tests were carried out three years before diagnosis. In some cases they pre-dated the discovery of breast cancer by up to 11 years," he adds. "The results were especially clear in blood samples from women under the age of 60." This research is just the beginning of scientists' understanding of the role of epigenetic mechanisms in breast cancer risk, senior author James Flanagan says. This study may also lead to the development of a blood test to help assess early breast cancer risk, Flanagan adds.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.