Even as a pair of prominent researchers saw their reputations crumble over controversies connected to their work, a University of Washington team showed anew the importance of rigorous, transparent, independent, and widely shared medical science to patients, in this case those with cancer.
Let’s start with the seemingly positive take that’s accompanying publication in the journal Nature of research regarding an open database with prospectively valuable information on BRCA1 variants, what some have dubbed the “cancer risk” gene.
Everybody carries both BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, named because BR stands for breast and CA for cancer. All of us have two copies of each gene, one passed down from our mother, the other from our father. The genes make proteins that help repair errors in our DNA that pop up from time to time when our cells divide and duplicate their genetic code. Mutations in either BRCA gene can disable the repair process and make both women and men carriers of the defect susceptible to certain kinds of cancer.