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On Cancer - May 15, 2017
Jumping Genes and the Dark Genome: MSK Researchers Gain New Insight into Childhood Cancers

Cancer is primarily a disease of the aged. A personís risk rises throughout the years as genetic mutations pile up, due either to copying mistakes when cells replicate or to ongoing exposure to certain environmental factors. Researchers have long been puzzled by why tumors develop in children, who presumably havenít had enough time for large numbers of random mutations to accumulate.

A new study led by Memorial Sloan Kettering scientists points to a surprising cause: a gene called PGBD5 that becomes abnormally activated during childhood. An enzyme made by the gene snips out DNA segments and flips them or moves them to a different location within the genome. This DNA transfer can drastically alter normal gene function and trigger cancer.

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