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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Cancer Genes Decoded

For the first time, researchers have decoded all the genes of a person with cancer and found a set of mutations that may have caused the disease or aided its progression.

Using cells donated by a woman in her 50s who died of leukemia, the scientists sequenced all the DNA from her cancer cells and compared it to the DNA from her own normal, healthy skin cells. Then, they zeroed in on 10 mutations that occurred only in the cancer cells, apparently spurring abnormal growth, preventing the cells from suppressing that growth and enabling them to fight off chemotherapy.

The findings will not help patients immediately, but researchers say they could lead to new therapies and will almost certainly help doctors make better choices among existing treatments, based on a more detailed genetic picture of each patient's cancer. Though the research involved leukemia, the same techniques can also he used to study the genomes of other cancers, and the researchers expect to apply them to breast, brain and lung cancers.

Richard Wilson, director of Washington University's Genome Sequencing Center and the senior author of the study said, "They'll give us a whole bunch of clues about what's going on in the DNA when cancer starts to bloom." He hoped that in 5 to 20 years, DNA sequencing for cancer patients would consist of dropping a spot of blood onto a chip that slides into a desktop computer and getting back a report that suggests which drugs will work V 4971 best. for each person.

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