A massive study on sequencing the genomes of dozen of cancers has revealed a complete picture of how DNA errors impact the growth of the tumor. Nearly 2800 cancer patients have been observed in this study. Around 1300 researchers from all over the world have come together to do an epic task of sequencing the genomes of 38 types of cancer. They have said that the findings of the decade long study can pave the way for full genomes sequencing of cancer patients. It will allow more targeted molecular treatment for each patient. This study has been named as Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) project. It has revealed many details like the number and location of driver mutation, which allow cells to reproduce uncontrollably, and several similarities between cancers found in different kinds of tissues.
Researchers have said that with the knowledge of origin and evolution of tumors, it has become easy to develop new tools and therapies to detect cancers earlier, which can save thousands of lives. The research has found out massive variety in cancer genomes. It also derives that how different one patient’s cancer genome is from another patient. A decade long analysis has found thousands of combination s of mutations in individual cancers and over 80 processes that are responsible for such mutation. These processes are at times age-related and sometimes it is inherited or linked to lifestyle factors like smoking or drinking. Experts have said that in some cases, the growth of the cancers can start decades before the diagnosis and at times, it occurs in childhood itself. This proves that the room of early diagnosis is much wider than expected.
The research has also highlighted that the patterns and location of mutations can identify 1 to 5 percent of cancers, which are difficult to find through regular diagnosis. Sequenced genomes have the potential to reveal occasional misdiagnosis of a cancer type as well. Other studies on the sequencing of cancer genomes have majorly focused on two percent of protein-coding genes. However, the PCAWG project has sequenced entire genomes, which has revealed new cancer-causing drive mutations in the other 98 percent non-coding genes. Experts have found vast variation in the number of mutations in particular cancer from very little in some cancers seen in kids to up to 100000 in lung cancer samples. The study says that cancer in different parts of the body are sometimes much more similar than it has been thought. Sequencing genomes helps in mapping out many kinds of mutations like changes in single DNA letters and larger deletion of genetic code, which can cause cancer.