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Finding Mutations that Protect

Technology Review has a Q&A with Ken Offit, chief of the clinical genetics service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who is leading a new study looking for protective variants in women with mutations in BRCA2. He hopes to use SNP arrays and a large number of study participants worldwide to find what factors might protect women who are genetically predisposed to getting breast cancer from getting it. They've already got 5,000 BRCA2 carriers to look at, and hope to extend the study to other types of cancer. "The question is whether the same factors that protect women from getting breast cancer or other cancers in the face of strong genetic predisposition will be generalizable to the population at large," he says.