By comparing the genetic code of gallbladder cancer patients with those of healthy volunteers at nearly 700,000 different locations in the genome, researchers say they have found several gene variants which may predispose individuals to develop the disease. The findings, published online on March 5, 2017 in The Lancet Oncology, could lead to a better understanding of the causes of this highly fatal condition, which could in turn lead to better treatments for the disease. The work is a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the National Cancer Institute and Tata Memorial Cancer Centre in Mumbai, India. The article is titled “"Common Genetic Variation and Risk of Gallbladder Cancer: A Case-Control Genome Wide Association Study.” Although gallbladder cancer is rare in most parts of the world, it is far more common among some ethnic groups, such as Native Americans in North America, and in certain geographic regions, including Central and South America and East and Southeast Asia. The 178,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide each year are centered primarily in these high-risk regions. "Using the latest technologies to look at the causes - notably the genetic underpinnings - of this understudied disease just makes a lot of sense," says study co-leader Nilanjan Chatterjee, Ph.D., Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School and a Professor of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center The gallbladder is a tiny organ in the abdomen that stores bile, the digestive fluid produced by the liver. When gallbladder cancer is discovered early, the chances for survival are good, but most gallbladder cancers are discovered late as it is difficult to diagnose because it often causes no specific symptoms.
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