During evolution, humans are more likely to develop cancer than other primates, according to a new study published May 3 in this journal. Cell reports.
To reach this conclusion, researchers Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterIn New York, USA, compared hundreds of human genes among 12 primate species.
According to the article, cancer is relatively rare in this group. Analyzing the autopsies of 971 primates who died at the Philadelphia Zoo in Pennsylvania, USA from 1901 to 1932, the researchers found that only eight had tumors.
After analysis, the study found that BRCA2, the gene responsible for preventing tumor formation and maintaining DNA repair, developed differently in humans.
One letter of DNA in the human BRCA2 gene, which is also normally involved in cancer-related genetic mutations, made it 20% worse in repairing DNA – which could explain our higher risk of cancer.
However, scientists still do not know why the gene is less active in humans than in other primates.
One possibility is that this decreased activity of BRCA2 increases fertility. This is because, according to the study’s authors, women with cancer-related gene variants appear to have become pregnant more easily.
The importance of research
The finding that a single mutation in the BRCA2 gene could be the main cause of human cancer could lead to new treatments, one of the authors of the study said in an interview with the Iacobuzio-Donahue website. NewScientist.
Although genetic engineering in humans is still a long way off, he said it would theoretically be possible to rewrite the BRCA2 gene to be more than primate versions associated with a lower incidence of cancer.