Thursday, March 08, 2007

cancer genes

The information can be found tailored for all types of users. For those who want an easy take here is the BBC version. Nature has a nice overview and the article proper.

Here is my take: a (fairly large) group of researchers mainly at the Sanger, in UK have studied hundreds of genes that are mutated in about 200 types of cancers. The trick here is to find what genes DO drive cancer as opposed to 'just happen to be mutated' in a cancer. At the end of the day your average tumour cell in an advanced stage tumour is likely to contain several mutations and many of them will probably be hitchhikers not necessarily contributing to the overall fitness of the cell. Unfortunately the result of the research is that the number of genes mutated in many cancers is higher than expected and telling apart driving genes from others will be a challenging task. One thing of working with so many types of cancers (200) is that genes that might not play any significant role in one type of cancer might turn to be important in the next.
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