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Scientific discovery

Important cancer gene discovery supported by EU institute

Research carried out by a postgraduate student has revealed that the loss of the gene Rif1, or a mutation of it which makes it inactive, is able to make cancer cells more resistant

Michal Zimmermann, a young scientist from a Czech research institute established in 2011 with European Union funding with the aim of becoming a leading European centre of science has made an important genetic discovery which could lead to more effective treatment for some forms of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Zimmermann’s research, published in January 2013 in the prestigious journal Science, shows that the inactivated Rif1 gene can enable the cells in hereditary breast and ovary cancers to repair the broken DNA, thereby nullifying the effects of the chemotherapy. The discovery opens the way to more targeted, individualised treatment for patients with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Situated in Brno, Czech Republic, and supported by funding from the EU’s Regional Development Fund, CEITEC is a centre of scientific excellence in the fields of life sciences and advanced materials and technologies.

Zimmermann made his discovery while working as part of his postgraduate studies at the prestigious Rockefeller University in New York.

Based on studies of mouse cell cultures, Zimmermann’s results will need to be verified by further research including in vivo tests using mouse cancer models and further experiments on cells derived from such tumours.

As well as its specific relevance to the treatment of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, Zimmermann’s research may also contribute to the wider fight against cancer.

Of interest