SAN DIEGO: Researchers have identified a gene which triggers inherited prostate cancer, according to a new Johns Hopkins study. The finding could help explain why the cancer occurs one-third more often among black men, since the gene appears to be more common in blacks. The newly located gene, HPC1, is believed responsible for at least one-third of all inherited forms of prostate cancer. After analyzing 103 families with a history of the illness in the U.S. and Sweden, researchers found that the HPC1 gene was present in five of six black families studied. The study also suggested that carriers of the HPC1 gene develop prostate cancer earlier in life than those with the non-inherited form of the disease. "It is still too early to say with certainty that this is an important gene in African-American prostate cancer," said study leader Dr. William Isaacs, "but we have this suggestion of the beginning of evidence of that."