Gene discovery gives hope for non-invasive cancer screening

PEOPLE with a heritable risk of cancer due to mutations in the MLH1 gene may be spared invasive screening tests, following a discovery by Australian medical researchers.

The researchers, from the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at the University of NSW, and the University of Western Australia, found changes to the outside of the gene attract a paralysing biochemical that stops it working, increasing the risk of developing bowel, uterine and other cancers by up to 80%.

The discovery followed investigation of a WA family with a history of colorectal cancer.

Genetic tests couldn’t find changes with the MLH1 gene to suggest why the disease was passed on.

But the researchers discovered the MLH1 genes had instead undergone a biochemical change that was passed on and increased cancer risk across three generations.

A single letter change in the DNA sequence led to the gene attracting the methylation, which provided the