Discovery about how cancer cells hide from the immune system could improve treatments
The researchers have mainly analyzed and had data on the most common types of cancer such as liver, breast, pancreas and prostate cancer. In total, they have analyzed whole genome-sequenced tumor samples from more than 2,600 patients.
Based on their analyses, they could see that the number of mutations in a cancer type varies a lot. Myeloid dysplasia and cancer in children have very few mutations, while there may be up to 100,000 mutations in lung cancer.
But even though the number of mutations spans widely, researchers could see that on average there were always 4-5 mutations that were driving the disease, the so-called drivers - no matter what type of cancer it was.
'It is quite surprising that almost all of them have the same number of driver mutations. However, it is consistent with theories that a cancerous tumor needs to change a certain number of mechanisms in the cell before things start to go wrong,' says Jakob Skou Pedersen.
In the catalog, the researchers have divided the mutations into drivers and passengers. Driver mutations provide a growth benefit for the cancer, while passenger mutations cover all the others and are harmless. The vast majority of all mutations are passengers. Genetics or tissue
To store and process the vast amount of data, the research team has used so-called cloud computing, using 13 data centers spread across three continents. They have had centers in Europe, the US, and Asia.
The large data set has been necessary to establish what was common and unique to the different types of cancer. Today, cancer is divided according to the tissue in which the disease originates, for example breast, brain, and prostate.
The researchers found many things that were completely unique to each type of tissue. Conversely, they also found many common traits across the tissue types. According to Joachim Weischenfeldt, there is thus a need to rethink the way we think about cancer.
'Cancer is a genetic disease, and the type of mutations is often more important than where the cancer originates in the body. This means that we need to think of cancer not just as a tissue-specific disease, but rather look at it based on genetics and the mutations it has.'
'For example, we may have a type of breast cancer and prostate cancer where the driver mutations are similar. This means that the patient with prostate cancer may benefit from the same treatment as the one you would give the breast cancer patient, because the two types share an important driver mutation,' says Joachim Weischenfeldt. Source:
Also in Industry News
How to decide whether or not to start treatment for prostate cancer?
Analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 proteome via visual tools
$65m investment increases British Patient Capital’s exposure to life sciences and health technology