Mitochondrial DNA mutations can reduce death risk in people with bowel cancer

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Sumary of Mitochondrial DNA mutations can reduce death risk in people with bowel cancer:

  • Mutations in the DNA of the cell’s energy ‘factories’ increases the chances of survival for people with bowel cancer, according to a study published today (Thursday) in Nature Metabolism..
  • Scientists funded by Cancer Research UK have found that patients with colorectal cancer, a common form of bowel cancer, had a 57 to 93% decreased risk of death from their cancer, depending on the presence and type of mitochondrial DNA mutations in their tumors..
  • The researchers hope that in the future, doctors could use this information to identify patients with more aggressive forms of bowel cancer so they can receive the most effective treatments..
  • Whilst most of our DNA is wrapped up at the center of our cells in the nucleus, we also have some in our mitochondria, which are small structures found in our cells that help us turn carbon fuels, such as sugar, into energy..
  • It’s known that mitochondrial mutations can be found in cancer cells, but there has been little research into what they do or whether they have any effect on treatment response or how the cancer will progress..
  • To answer these questions, researchers at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow collaborated with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to collate and analyze data from the largest published dataset of tumour samples that include mitochondrial genome data and the corresponding clinical outcomes of the patients..
  • By analyzing this data from 344 patients with a common form of bowel cancer known as colorectal cancer, the researchers could match groups of mutations to the likelihood of survival..
  • They found that, after controlling for other variables which affect cancer risk like age, the presence of mitochondrial mutations was associated with 57 to 93% decreased risk of death from colorectal cancer, depending on the type of mitochondrial DNA mutation..
  • They used cutting-edge genetic techniques to look at existing data from over 10,000 tumor samples across 23 cancer types to search for mitochondrial mutations that were frequently repeated..
  • Related Stories They found that mitochondrial mutations were present in almost 6 in 10 of the tumor samples, with 25 out of the 30 most commonly mutated genes across cancers being present in the mitochondrial genome..
  • Further research is needed to understand the wider implications of mitochondrial mutations in different cancers, and to delve into the biological underpinnings behind it..
  • This new study shines a light on the impact of mitochondrial DNA mutations in cancer, which have been overlooked for decades…

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