Mapping Cancer’s Genome

I will be the first to admit – I am not a science geek and sometimes, reviewing new research intimidates the heck out of me. But this – I get.

According to a study published this month in the Journal Nature, Scientists have charted the most complete cancer genomes to date. I’ll let Michael Stratton, the head researcher explain why this is a big deal for the future. “In addition to sequencing more different kinds of cancers, there will be a "profound benefit" of sequencing more cell lines from the same tumor type, said Stratton. By identifying mutations that show up consistently in hundreds of different tumors of the same type, he said, scientists will be able to pinpoint additional driver mutations of specific cancers. These genes may present new drug targets for cancer therapies.

A complete list of the driver mutations in any particular cancer type can then serve as the ultimate diagnostic tool, Stratton added. Looking at a particular tumor in a particular patient and being able to identify which driver mutations it carries "will give us a good indication of which drugs the patient will respond to," he said, "[giving] us a much more refined way of applying cancer therapy to the benefit of patients."

I found this article in one of my favorite daily emails called “The Scientist.” If you don’t suscribe to www.thescientist.com’s daily email you should. It’s an online magazine about life sciences and their coverage of cancer is pretty consistent, and (good for me) easy to understand.

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