Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Testicular Tumors May Explain Why Some Diseases Are More Common In Children Of Older Fathers

Date:
October 26, 2009
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
A rare form of testicular tumor has provided scientists with new insights into how genetic changes arise in our children. The research could explain why certain diseases are more common in the children of older fathers.

A rare form of testicular tumour has provided scientists with new insights into how genetic changes (mutations) arise in our children. The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Danish Cancer Society, could explain why certain diseases are more common in the children of older fathers.

Related Articles


Mutations can occur in different cells of the body and at different times during life. Some, such as those which occur in 'germ cells' (those which create sperm or eggs), cause changes which affect the offspring; those which occur in other cells can lead to tumours, but are not inherited.

In work published in Nature Genetics, researchers at the University of Oxford and Copenhagen University Hospital describe a surprising link between certain severe childhood genetic disorders and rare testicular tumours occurring in older men: the germ cells that make the mutant gene-carrying sperm seem to be the same cells that produce the tumour.

Although the original mutations occur only rarely in the sperm-producing cells, they encourage the mutant cells to divide and multiply. When the cell divides, it copies the mutation to each daughter cell, and the clump of mutant sperm-producing cells expands over time. Hence, the number of sperm carrying this mutation also increases as men get older, raising the risk to older fathers of having affected children.

Professor Andrew Wilkie from the University of Oxford, who led the study, explains: "We think most men develop these tiny clumps of mutant cells in their testicles as they age. They are rather like moles in the skin, usually harmless in themselves. But by being located in the testicle, they also make sperm -- causing children to be born with a variety of serious conditions. We call them 'selfish' because the mutations benefit the germ cell but are harmful to offspring."

The work helps to explain the origins of several serious conditions that affect childhood growth and development. These include achondroplasia and Apert, Noonan and Costello syndromes, as well as some conditions causing stillbirth. The research links these conditions to a single pathway controlling cell multiplication, and will be valuable to doctors explaining to parents why the disorder has arisen, and informing them about the risks of it occurring again: in most cases, future children are unlikely to be affected.

The findings may also help explain one of the mysteries of genetics: why scientists have yet to account for much of the genetic component of common diseases. Common diseases tend to be caused by the interaction of many genes, but despite powerful genome-wide association scans to search for these genes, relatively few have been uncovered. Several of these diseases, including breast cancer, autism and schizophrenia, seem to be more frequent in the offspring of older fathers, but the reasons are unknown. Professor Wilkie suggests that similar -- but milder -- mutations might contribute to these diseases.

"What we have seen so far may just be the tip of a large iceberg of mildly harmful mutations being introduced into our genome," he explains. "These mutations would be too weak and too rare to be picked up by our current technology, but their sheer number would have a cumulative effect, leading to disease."

Further research is needed to find other genes that are affected by this process. However, DNA sequencing technology has recently undergone a step change in capacity, enabling more sequence to be obtained in one day than was possible in a whole year just a decade ago. As the sequencing data emerge over the next decade, we should discover just how vulnerable we are to men's selfish mutation factories.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anne Goriely, Ruth M S Hansen, Indira B Taylor, Inge A Olesen, Grete Krag Jacobsen, Simon J McGowan, Susanne P Pfeifer, Gilean A T McVean, Ewa Rajpert-De Meyts & Andrew O M Wilkie. Activating mutations in FGFR3 and HRAS reveal a shared genetic origin for congenital disorders and testicular tumors. Nature Genetics, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/ng.470

Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Testicular Tumors May Explain Why Some Diseases Are More Common In Children Of Older Fathers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091025162450.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2009, October 26). Testicular Tumors May Explain Why Some Diseases Are More Common In Children Of Older Fathers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091025162450.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Testicular Tumors May Explain Why Some Diseases Are More Common In Children Of Older Fathers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091025162450.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins