Scientists have analyzed the complete genetic blueprints of over 18,000 cancer samples and found new patterns of mutations that could help physicians provide better, more personalized treatments. ..
Their study, published Thursday in the journal Science, is not the first study to perform such a comprehensive “whole genome” analysis of cancer samples. But no one has done so much.
“This is the largest cohort in the world, said Serena Nik-Zinal of the University of Cambridge, who was part of the team.
Slightly over 12,200 surgical specimens were obtained from patients recruited by the United Kingdom National Health Service as part of a project to study the entire genome of people with common cancers and rare diseases. The rest came from existing cancer datasets.
With the same improvements in gene sequencing techniques that have recently allowed scientists to finally complete the decoding of the entire human genome, a higher performance and more accurate machine, researchers have analyzed a very large number. I was able to do.
Andrew Futrial, a genomic medicine expert at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, who was not involved in the study, said:
Cancer is a disease of the genome, or a complete set of instructions for moving cells, which occurs when changes in human DNA cause cells to grow and divide out of control. In 2020, there were about 19 million new cancer cases worldwide.
In this study, researchers examined 19 different types (breast, colorectal, prostate, brain, etc.) and identified 58 new clues to the cause of cancer called “signs of mutation” that contribute to the development of the disease. bottom. They also identified 51 of the more than 70 previously reported mutation patterns, Nik-Zainal said.
Some are caused by problems inside human cells. Others are caused by environmental exposure such as UV light, cigarette smoke and chemicals.
Knowing many of them “helps us to understand each and every cancer more accurately,” it can help guide treatment, Nik-Zainal said.
Gene sequencing has already been incorporated into cancer treatment as part of the growth trend of personalized medicine, or treatments based on the patient’s genes and specific diseases. This allows doctors to get more information when examining individual cancers.
To make this information available to doctors, researchers have developed computer algorithms that can find common mutation patterns and look for rare ones. Based on specific patterns, Nik-Zainal said doctors may suggest specific behavioral strategies, such as receiving immunotherapy.
According to Futreal, this data can also show doctors what is more likely to happen over time when a patient develops cancer with a particular mutation pattern.
The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.
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