One woman had 12 tumors – seven benign and five cancerous – before her 40th birthday. Medical researchers recently discovered the reason she is so vulnerable to abnormal development: She carries a set of genetic mutations never before seen in humans.

The woman, now 36, carries two mutated copies of a gene called MAD1L1 from each parent, according to a new report published Wednesday (Nov. 2) in the journal. Advances in science (Opens in a new tab). The gene codes for a protein called MAD1, which plays an important role in cell division.

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