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Gene Variation Linked to Liver Cancer in Hepatitis C Patients

A genome-wide association study looking at more than 460,000 single nucleotide changes found that a variation in the DEPDC5 gene on chromosome 22 is associated with increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in people with hepatitis C. alt

Over years or decades chronic C virus (HCV) infection can cause serious liver disease including advanced cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a form of primary liver cancer.

In a study described in the July 3, 2011, online edition of Nature Genetics, Daiki Miki from the RIKEN Institute in Hiroshima and colleagues analyzed 467,538 single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (variations at a single location on a gene) in 212 Japanese chronic hepatitis C patients with HCC and 765 without liver cancer.

The researchers identified an intronic SNP -- rs1012068 -- in the DEPDC5 locus on chromosome 22 that was associated with elevated HCC risk. They then confirmed this association in a case-control population consisting of 710 people with HCC and 1625 without, finding a highly significant correlation.

"Our findings suggest that common variants within the DEPDC5 locus affect susceptibility to HCC in Japanese individuals with chronic HCV infection," the study authors concluded.

While deepening our understanding of the mechanisms triggering HCC, the discovery of the DEPDC5 SNP locus also provides a valuable target for new therapy techniques, promising progress in the ongoing battle to overcome one of the world's most deadly cancers, according to a press release issued by the RIKEN Institute.

Investigator affiliations: Laboratory for Digestive Diseases, Center for Genomic Medicine, RIKEN, Hiroshima, Japan; Department of Medicine and Molecular Science, Division of Frontier Medical Science, Programs for Biomedical Research, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.

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Reference
D Miki, H Ochi, CN Hayes, et al. Variation in the DEPDC5 locus is associated with progression to hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic hepatitis C virus carriers. Nature Genetics (abstract). July 3, 2011 (Epub ahead of print).

Other Source
RIKEN Institute. Genetic Variant Linked to Development of Liver Cancer in Hepatitis C Virus Carriers. Press release. July 4, 2011.