IMAGE: A colorized micrograph depicting colon cancer cells. view more
Credit: National Institutes of Health
Cancerous tumors are classified primarily based on their tissue of origin. However, the sequencing of the human genome and the development of powerful and affordable DNA sequencing technologies has ushered in a new era of precision oncology, in which patients are treated with customized therapies designed to target the specific mutations within their tumor.
This new treatment approach has yielded some important successes but, recently many cancers experts have begun to suspect that where a cancer arises in the body may influence how specific mutations behave, playing a major role in determining how patients respond to targeted treatments. Currently, the ways in which the tissue environment shapes the tumors genetic makeup are not well understood.
In a new paper, publishing April 24, 2019 in Nature, a team of researchers headed by scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at UC San Diego, describe a new set of “rules” that predict how the tissue of origin influences critical aspects of the genetic makeup of tumors, with potentially important therapeutic implications.
Focusing on an essential cellular
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