Researchers have apparently uncovered the genetic secrets of two of the most potentially deadly cancers namely pancreatic and brain. Though difficult to believe, if the study does hold some truth it can certainly suggest new ways of predicting how patients will respond to treatment of these fatal cancers.
Lead researcher Prof Kenneth Kinzler of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions remarked, “The landscape of human cancers is clearly more complex than has been previously appreciated. Fighting it is going to be more of a guerrilla war than a conventional one because there are dozens of mutated genes in each tumour.”
He further added, “Individually, these mutations don’t seem formidable. “But working together, they form an enemy that will require us to develop novel strategies to combat them, and the best long-term strategy may be early detection of tumours, when the number of guerrilla warriors is still small and more easily handled.”
Co-researcher Dr David Wheeler mentioned, “We can see mutations in all the genes of each pathway that control growth, replication and death in the cancer cell. Researchers have never seen the whole landscape like this and it’s providing many new insights into strategies to diagnose and treat cancer.”
Nearly 40 patients divided into two groups were part of this distinct study. They were decoded for DNA of brain and pancreas tumour cells. While one team of researchers examined the DNA of more than 20,000 genes from 24 pancreatic and 22 brain tumours yet another team concentrated on identification of brain cancer by analyzing 623 genes from 91 tumours.
A medical breakthrough the team of researchers interestingly discovered dozens of broken, missing and overactive genes that trigger the growth of potentially lethal tumours of the brain and pancreas. Around a dozen chemical pathways in cells which contribute to the development and growth of the cancer were found by the first group of researchers. In addition they also isolated 83 gene mutations that were actually involved in pancreatic cancer and 42 in glioblastoma. The second group of researchers was successful in identifying certain genes that are known to cause cancer.
The study helps to bring new insights to cancer as the contribution of these genes to the fatal disease had been previously been underestimated. Based on this study, scientists hope to aid the development of new drugs and novel ways of diagnosing cancer.