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Islet Cell Tumor Genetic Code is Deciphered

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have succeded in deciphering the genetic code of islet cell tumors. Five percent of pancreatic cancers comprise of these rare type of tumors. The results of the study are published in the January 2011 online issue of the journal Science express.

In the study, it was found that patients suffering from this rare cancer have mistakes in the coding of their genes. This causes the malignant cancer cells live twice the longer life in comparison to the tumor cells without these erroneous genes.

MEN-1, DAXX and ATRX are the three genes which were found to under go mutation. Patients with these genes outlived sufferers of this cancer without the genes by 10 years. The researchers believe that while certain cancer cells produce hormones revealing their presence, there are some rare malignant cells which do not release hormones and remain hidden. Islet cells tumors belong to the latter type of cancer cells, making the diagnosis of the ailment difficult.

The researchers have known that it would be more beneficial to classify cancers based on the type of genes rather than the cell type or the organ, owing to the outcome of this study.

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