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Redefining the cancer genome
09-25-2006
by Randall C. Willis  |  Email the author
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BALTIMORE—Despite the elucidation of the human genome, most efforts to understand genetic changes in cancer have focused on only a handful of marker genes. Because cancer pathology is more widespread than the effects of one or two genes, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Agencourt Bioscience, SoftGenetics and other institutes recently performed a systematic analysis of two cancers to identify secondary genes involved in the diseases.
 
They presented their work in Science.
 
The researchers focused their efforts on identifying mutations in the protein-coding subset of genes, using PCR, sequencing and bioinformatics to examine more than 120,000 sequences (13,023 genes) in 11 strains each of breast and colorectal cancer cells. Of the almost 900,000 mutations they identified, the researchers noted a subset of 186 genes, which they called CAN-genes, that closely correlated with disease.
 
None of the genes—involved in processes ranging from gene expression to cell adhesion to cell invasion—was previously associated with cancer progression, making them attractive targets for future therapeutics and diagnostics development. The results also suggest the importance of performing similar large-scale genomic analyses for other genetic diseases.

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