Advances in sequencing could lead to new cancer therapies
As reported in 14 August issue of Nature, a large team of researchers led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has published a study into the mutational signatures found in human cancer. The team analysed nearly 5 million mutations from over 7,000 cancers and using an algorithm they developed, they extracted more than 20 distinct mutational signatures from catalogues of mutations. It was possible to associate some of the signatures with known causes such as tobacco smoking in lung cancers and UV light in skin cancers, but many were of unknown origin and this will be a focus of future work.
Determining how mutations evolve and in what combinations cause cancer to occur may lead to new therapies.
This is important news because, while it is not expected that new anti-cancer treatments will be developed directly from this research, determining how mutations evolve and in what combinations cause cancer to occur may lead to new therapies and approaches to the management of the disease. Furthermore, this significant step towards understanding the complex biological processes that lead to the development of cancers is only possible due to the recent advances in sequencing technology which enable a study on this scale to be undertaken.