US research has revealed that protein-generating material found in all cells may have a key role in cancer.
A study published in the September issue of the journal Cancer Cell has found that a type of ribonucleic acid (RNA) can contribute to cancer development.
The researchers believe that ultraconserved noncoding RNAs (UCRs) could serve as genetic markers for cancer susceptibility and are hopeful that they could be used to diagnose the disease and determine a patient's prognosis and perhaps even treatment.
Principal investigator Dr Carlo Croce said: "Along with oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes and micro-RNA, this seems to be another family of genes that plays an important role in cancer. Our next step is to learn how they work and if they are good targets for drug therapy."
He added: "Overall, our findings indicate that these molecules are involved in cancer. But we need to learn if they are also involved in other diseases such as Alzheimer's and heart disease."