Monday, April 23, 2007

Caspase 8 indel protects against cancer

A recent publication in nature genetics demonstrated that a small 6bp indel which reduces the inducibility of the caspase 8 promoter protected against various forms of cancer in a large population (10 000) of Chinese. This of course is surprising, since apoptosis is mostly viewed as protective, but the effect is apparently mediated by protection of T-cells upon stimulation with cancer cell antigens. The variant showed up in 25% of people who where cancer free but only in 20% of those with cancer. Now the difference is not huge, but this is probably the type of variation that humans will accumulate as reproductive age goes up in the evolution of our species...