"This was a big thrust for the public project," said Dr. Richard Gibbs, director of the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center, a member of the network and a co-author of the paper. "This answers the big question about whether the cancer genome project is worthwhile. The results show that it is—definitely." The BCM Center, the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts led the effort that included many members from across the nation.
This interim analysis of 91 tumors and 623 genes provides important clues about how the disease originates and progresses in cells and how it eludes the effects of potent anti-cancer drugs and radiation, said Dr. David Wheeler, associate professor in the Genome Sequencing Center and a co-author of the report. It could provide researchers with clues about how to treat the disease. The Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center was a major component in the effort to sequence the genes and identify mutations and changes that affected the ways cells react.
"Studies like this show the breadth of mutation across many genes," said Wheeler. "We can see the 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 before, and it's providing many new insights into strategies to diagnose and treat cancer."
The ultimate goal of the project is to sequence the entire exome – that portion of the genetic blueprint that provides the code for proteins – of the tumor, said Wheeler. In fact, he said, the goal is to sequence genes in 500 brain cancer samples, but the network decided to publish preliminary results.
"When we pulled everything together with just 91 samples, the results were so interesting and important for treatment that we felt we should publish before the end of the project," he said.
Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain tumor. Most people live approximately one year after diagnosis. Understanding this cancer could result in better forms of treatment.
The analysis identified some genes known to cause cancer but whose role in glioblastoma had been previously underestimated, he said. For example, the genes ERBB2 (known to be implicated in breast and other cancers) and NF1 (neurofibromatosis gene 1 involved in a variety of tumors) were both found to be frequently mutated in this brain tumor. Other genes that previously had no known role in glioblastoma such as PIK3R1, a gene involved in regulating the metabolic actions of insulin were also found mutated in a variety of tumors.
In addition, the analysis gave scientists a wide view of how cell pathways are altered during the initiation and growth of glioblastoma.
"If we know what pathways are key to the formation of a tumor, we can design drugs to block those pathways," said Wheeler. "In cancer, key pathways are co-opted to make the cell grow and divide in an uncontrolled fashion."
For example, the TP53 pathway tells mutated cells to die in a process called apoptosis.
"It's a fail-safe mechanism," said Wheeler. "If a cell starts to become cancerous, p53 causes the cell to kill itself. If that pathway is knocked out, the cell avoids the fail-safe mechanism and can continue to divide."
Other pathways involved in the sequencing effort are also disrupted to allow the cancer to grow, he said.
Glenna Picton | EurekAlert!
Research team creates new possibilities for medicine and materials sciences
22.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent
22.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences