New breast cancer gene discovered

A large international study led by University of Melbourne researchers identified XRCC2 mutations in two families with multiple cases of breast cancer.

They later found many more mutations to the gene in DNA from blood samples of 689 other families. DNA from 1308 women who had early onset breast cancer, as well as 1120 healthy people, was also analysed.

"At the moment, if a woman with a strong family history of breast cancer goes to clinical genetic services and undergoes testing for the genes that we know today, the most likely outcome is that she will not be found to have a mutation in any of those genes," lead author Professor Melissa Southey said.

But the study, published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics, is continuing, with much more data to analyse.

"We really are very optimistic that we will find additional genes like this."

Previously, DNA sequencing used a slow and