Researchers in the Department of Medical Genetics have identified a group of cancer patients who harbour multiple inherited gene defects – a condition they term MINAS, an acronym for “Multilocus Inherited Neoplastic Alleles Syndrome.”
It is well established that individuals who have alterations in certain key genes can be predisposed to developing cancers but this is a relatively infrequent situation. A key goal of Clinical Genetics services is to identify such individuals through genetic testing but, typically, only a limited number of genes are tested and if a causative alteration is found then further investigation isn’t often pursued. Consequently, individuals who harbour more than one cancer predisposing genetic change (MINAS) could easily remain undiagnosed. However, knowing that a cancer patient has MINAS has profound implications for estimates of familial cancer risks and can influence cancer treatment and prevention strategies in the patient.
Improvements in genetic testing technology whereby many genes are tested simultaneously will increase the chances of MINAS being detected but information about how combinations of rare gene defects might affect an individual’s health is often very limited. Therefore the researchers (James Whitworth, Marc Tischkowitz and Eamonn Maher) have established a database for clinicians to record information about MINAS in order to better understand the consequences of MINAS and improve patient care. The research has been published in an article available here.