17
Dec
09

Tracking cancer genes for two baddies

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute reports they have tracked down all the DNA damage leading to lung cancer and melanoma. The lead investigator, Mike Stratton, is quoted in Physorg.com as saying:

“Now that we have these comprehensive complete catalogues of mutations on individual cancers, we will be able to see how each cancer developed, what were the exposures, what were the environmental factors and that’s going to be key for our understanding generally of how cancers develop,” he said.

“And for our individual patients, we will see all the genes that are abnormal and are driving each cancer and that’s really critical, because that will tell us which drugs are likely to have an effect on that particular cancer and which are not.”

So it’s not just the aggregate damage that’s been documented but the progression of damage from cigarette smoke in lung cancer and ultraviolet radiation in melanoma that has been uncovered. That gives some real insight about the process of carcinogenesis.

I’ve noted that genetics has been receiving some knocks lately because more therapeutic results have been expected by now from genetic studies. But these studies seem to be the definitive books of two bad cancers. It’ll be interesting to track the progress of this information into clinical therapeutics. If Professor Stratton’s prognostication comes true I guess it’ll quiet the skeptics, and we can go back to looking for some dramatic progress in the foreseeable future.

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