SYDNEY, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientists said a ground-breaking research project into one family will unlock the secrets of prostate cancer.
Researchers from Melbourne's Menzies Institute will study the tumors of men from one Tasmanian family which has had 32 cases of prostate cancer in two generations to try and better understand the cancer.
The world-first study will examine the tumors to establish if they have a genetic disruption to chromosome seven, a mutation which causes aggressive prostate cancer, and if the disruption is genetic.
Liesel FitzGerald, the lead researcher from the Menzies Institute, said the team would try and establish why the mutation occurred.
"I have a suspicion that it is due to two genes fusing together, and unfortunately when this happens the tumors tend to grow a lot faster, and they invade into other parts of the body," FitzGerald told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Thursday.
"I believe it might be an inherited mutation, and the inherited mutation in their normal cells causes gene fusion to occur."
She said that the island state of Tasmania, where 500 people are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, was the perfect place to study genetic diseases because of its small gene pool.
"We originated from a very small population, about 10,000 families in the 1850s. About 60 per cent of Tasmanians today can trace their heritage back to these 10,000 families," she said.
"So if one family back then carried a gene mutation, many people today - if they could trace their history back to that family - would carry this mutation."