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Genome update defines landscape of breast and colon cancers
Date:10/11/2007

team charted the path of nine genes less frequently mutated in breast or colon cancers. Each of the genes protein products interacted with an average of 25 other proteins, encoded by separate genes also found to be mutated in the cancers. It suggests that these genes converge in similar pathways. The hard part used to be finding these mutant genes, now the challenge will be to link them to specific pathways and understand their function, says Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The scientists say that directing therapies at common pathways that are linked by both prevalent and rare gene mutations is a better approach than aiming treatments at specific genes. They also note that personalized cancer genomics paves the way for tailored therapies and diagnostics focusing on the alterations identified in a particular patients cancer. Many of the mutations identified by scientists could be important in developing individualized cancer vaccines and monitoring patients for early recurrence of their disease.

For the study, the scientists screened the same set of tissue samples that were used for their first genome draft - 11 each of breast and colorectal cancers, removed from patients after surgery. Then, they evaluated all mutated genes in a second group of 24 samples from each cancer, and a subset of the most promising mutations were studied in a further 96 colorectal cancers. They compared the genetic sequence of these tumors with that of normal tissue samples from the same patients using computer software that matches up gene codes in cancer and normal cells.

Within each cell, chemicals called nucleotides pair up to form the rungs of a DNA ladder that carry genetic instructions guiding everything from cell-to-cell contact to eye color. Changes in the nucleotide arrangement can create errors in the proteins made from the DNA. Buildup of damaged proteins can turn a n
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wastava@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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