Mutations in the AXIN2 gene may account for as many as five per cent of cases of the cancer, according to researchers from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.
Scientists said the gene was one of several involved in an important cell pathway, which controls levels of a protein known as beta-catenin. It was now thought that mutations in a range of genes could elevate levels of the protein, triggering the development of colorectal cancer.
AXIN2 gene controls levels of beta-catenin.
Mutations in adenomatous polyposis coli and beta-catenin genes had the same effect.
Researchers studied the DNA from 105 cancer samples to reach their conclusion.
Researcher Dr Wanguo Liu said his group was now trying to determine the exact mechanisms of the gene. The work shows that it is associated with defective repair mechanisms in DNA replication.
Dr Liu said: "Clinically, screening for mutations in the AXIN2 gene may aid in distinguishing a sub-group of colorectal cancer from others, for specific therapeutic decision-making.
"It even may be possible to treat cancers in which the AXIN2 gene is defective by using gene therapy to transplant functional copies of the gene into patients' cells, thus repairing the genetic defect causing the cancer."
Report Copyright: Englemed Health News at http://www.internationalmedicalnews.com