Funded by Hooters of America, LLC
According to estimates from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, worldwide, there were 18.1 million new cancer cases diagnosed with 9.6 million deaths in 2018. In other words, one in 5 men and one in 6 women experience cancer during their lifetime, and one in 8 men and one in 11 women die from the disease. As such, there is an urgent need for finding better treatments to reduce cancer-associated death. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes that, when mutated, can cause cancer. Studies by many research groups have revealed critical roles of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in protecting our genetic material from damage caused by sunlight, radiation, and other environmental exposures. While BRCA mutations have been linked to a greatly increased risk of developing cancer, we do not yet fully understand the biological process of DNA repair mediated by the BRCA genes. This poses a challenge for patient counseling, determining prevention strategies, and the formulation of treatment plans when disease strikes. Here, we describe a research project to study BRCA1 and BRCA2 designed to fill this knowledge gap. The information and tools from our work will help explain why BRCA mutations cause disease and help formulate treatment regimens that are more effective than current ones.