New gene test to determine breast cancer risk

Angelina Jolie
Updated 10 October 2017

New gene test to determine breast cancer risk

JEDDAH: Women will be able to find out how likely they are to develop breast cancer after a group of researchers in Manchester, Britain, carried out a gene test that could soon be used on high-risk groups, the BBC reported.
The Single Nucleotide Polymorphism test, which looks at 18 genetic variations known to affect the odds of developing breast cancer, is conducted on blood or saliva, and could reduce the number of women undergoing mastectomies.
The BRCA gene has been dubbed the “Angelina Jolie gene.” She revealed that she had a mastectomy after learning that she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer.
Women with the BRCA mutation have a 30-90 percent risk of developing breast cancer, said Prof. Gareth Evans, who is leading the research into the test at the Manchester University Foundation Trust. The test will better inform women about whether to undergo a mastectomy, Evans added.
Women are given a percentage chance of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years and throughout their lifetime by combining the test’s results with data on breast density and the age a woman has children or reaches puberty.
Becky Measures, a radio presenter on Peak FM, had to remove a breast at the age of 24 soon after finding out that she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation. She also learned that she has to remove her womb and ovaries in the next four months.
“When they find that they have the BRCA1 or 2 gene, many women fear that they have to take action immediately,” said Measures. “The new test will give women more options and help them make a more informed decision.”
The test should be made widely available, said Evans, as it allows women to learn their likelihood of developing breast cancer. “This is a massive game-changer for breast cancer,” he said.
The team of researchers plan to look at samples from 60,000 women by working with Cambridge University and researchers in the US, Australia and Europe.
The team hopes to improve the gene test within two years to include up to 300 genetic variants that affect the likelihood of developing the disease.
The team is also researching whether the test can be used to understand how genes affect the risk of developing other forms of cancer, such as prostate, uterine, ovarian, lung and colorectal.
It could be useful to people with the BRCA gene mutation who have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer.
“The more we learn about the genetic components behind these increased risks of developing breast cancer in women who have a family history of the disease, the better the choice they can make about their health,” the BBC quoted Dr. Justine Alford, senior science communications officer at Cancer Research UK, as saying.
Helping women with no family history of breast cancer who may still have a genetic risk of developing the disease is next on the list, said Lester Barr, chairman of Prevent Breast Cancer, a Manchester-based charity that funded some of the research.

India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018

India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

  • Afghan, Indian leaders “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership”
  • The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

NEW DELHI: India and Afghanistan reviewed bilateral civil and military cooperation during a one day of meetings in  New Delhi on Wednesday.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which the two sides “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership.”

A press release from the Indian Prime Minister’s office announced after the meeting: “It was agreed to deepen the New Development Partnership in the areas of high impact projects in this field of infrastructure, human resources development and other capacity-building projects in Afghanistan.” 

 The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

 “I would like to thank the Indian people for their commitment to Afghanistan's future,” Ghani said in a speech in New Delhi before leaving for Kabul.

“What India-Afghanistan share is deep and binding trust in democratic institutions,” he added.

Modi supported an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process” and pledged “India's unwavering commitment to support the efforts of the government of Afghanistan to this end, as also for the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan.”

 “Peace with the Taliban is important so that we can concentrate on counter-terrorism. The Taliban is part of Afghan society, ISIS (using another term for the terror group Daesh) is not. We must make that distinction,” Ghani said in his address at the New Delhi-based think tank, India Foundation.

 Commenting on Ghani’s visit, Vishal Chandra of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), a New Delhi-based think tank, said: “The timing of the visit is significant; he has come at a time when the Afghan forces are under great pressure from the Taliban and Daesh.” He added that Ghani was looking for wider regional support in initiatives to stem the rising tide of terrorism.

Talking to Arab News, Chandra underlined that “there is no question of India involving itself militarily in Afghanistan, but it might step up its efforts to ensure that they have better air capability and they don’t have shortage of ammunition. I don’t expect India to supply heavy weaponry.”

Harsh V. Pant, director of the think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said: “Despite India scaling up its presence in the defence sector, New Delhi’s military presence in Afghanistan is limited.

“The appetite in India for military involvement is very small; there is no consensus about the military footprints New Delhi should have in Afghanistan. But there is a consensus that New Delhi’s security cooperation with Kabul should be extended and should be robust and that is what India is doing.” 

In his book “India’s Afghanistan Muddle” Pant argued that “India cannot evolve its equity in Afghanistan unless some form of military involvement happens.”

Pant told Arab News: “The visit of Ghani at this time is a sign of a certain maturity in the relationship where Afghanistan feels that India should be kept in a loop. The relationship has grown to an extent that two sides are comfortable with each other in sharing assessment about where the political trajectory is going.”