Monday, November 28, 2011
Scientists "crack the code" of Cancer
Scientists have provided the genetic code of two types of common cancers, skin and lung cancer. They have been able to catalogue each error or abnormalities of the DNA present in a skin cancer called melanoma as well as lung cancer. The DNA code for the melanoma contained more than 30,000 types of errors and the lung cancer included more than 23,000 errors. In the case of the melanoma these errors are caused by too much sun exposure, while in lung cancer the errors are caused by cigarette smoke. Cracking this genetic code will give scientists great insight in treatments and development of cancer. For example, with this code experts can figure out that a typical smoker gains one new mutation or error for every 15 cigarettes they smoke, some of which can trigger cancer. These lists of errors can be studied to find precisely which environmental factors trigger different cancers. These lists can also be highly useful in the treatment of cancer. Researchers will be able to develop drugs that treat specific mutated genes and accordingly treat patients with specific genome mutations as well as develop tests to identify tumors much earlier. Scientists from around the world are already working on cataloguing the genes of other types cancer in hopes of new, similar treatment methods. Japan is working at liver cancer, India is working on mouth cancer, China is studying stomach cancer, the UK is studying breast cancer, and the US is looking at cancers of the brain, ovary, and pancreas. It is going to take an estimated five years to complete but cracking this genetic code is a big step in cancer research.