Stomach cancer genes identified

In collaboration with the Press Association

Irish researchers have identified two genes that appear to be involved in the development of stomach cancer.

While the research remains in its earliest stages, if further studies confirm the results, the discovery could lead to progress against the disease.

Examining thousands of tissue samples, scientists at the University College Dublin identified two genes, NET1 and MYEOV, that were both "switched on" in tissue from stomach tumours.

"When we compared the normal lining of the stomach to stomach cancer we saw this gene was 'up'," researcher Dr Peter Doran told the Times.

The study also suggested that the NET1 gene seems to be instrumental in allowing cancer cells to enter the lining of the stomach or colon.

Once cancer cells reach the lining , it is easy for tumours to spread throughout the body, with often fatal results.

"When we have taken cancer cells and switched off the NET1 gene, we found that the cancer cells don't invade. That is a hugely significant finding," said Dr Doran. "We have tried for so long to kill these tumours and this is giving us a little opening. We are trying to push that door completely open and identify how to stop this gene working to cause disease."

The study is published in the British Journal of Cancer, which is owned by Cancer Research UK.

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