How can we find "cancer genes"?

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David Wright

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How can we find "cancer genes"?
« on: 06/01/2010 13:30:02 »
David Wright  asked the Naked Scientists:
Cracking Cancer DNA

Chris, Kat,

If a cancer is the result of random mutations in my DNA, how can they "crack entire genetic code" of (a) cancer?

From linked article.    
"The scientists found the DNA code for a skin cancer called melanoma contained more than 30,000 errors almost entirely caused by too much sun exposure."

"Although many of these mutations will be harmless, some will trigger cancer."

"Most of the time the mutations will land in innocent parts of the genome, but some will hit the right targets for cancer."

Do common cancers mutate the same way coincidently in every person so that cancer is like a lottery where 48, 56, 20, 19, 40 is meaningless but 67, 50, 26, 10, 40 always means "Congratulations you just won lung cancer type X!"

Do we inherit mutations (67, --, 26, 10, 40) from our parents/cline and 1 cell in our body just happens to roll that 50 - the required trigger to activate the inherited cancer genes? Is that the explanation for "inherited" cancers?

Is cancer a set of newly mutated genes that do "cancerous" things, or is it always a ruining of "good" genes so that they can't do their good jobs - like ensuring cell-death.

Or more pictorially, Did the mutation render useless the apoptotic executioner, or did the mutation create a new "super" gene that overwhelmed the executioner? Or are both possible?

And because this new super-gene is not inheritable - because it didn't happen in the egg or sperm cell - it can't be passed on, but only randomly appears again in some other person?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 06/01/2010 13:30:02 by _system »


Offline Jonathan Madriaga

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« Reply #1 on: 06/02/2010 01:31:12 »
Interesting article, thats how powerful the human genome project is, because finding these DNA sequences can induce genetic therapy. If these cancers have a specific genetic code, are they genetically inherited. If they are inherited, there is a chance it will be passed on to subsequent generations, so in this instance, it is useful for gene therapy to target these sequences and introduce a siRNA to repress this gene. I know, they can be induced by oxidative stress, endogenous, exogenous factors, etc as well. This in turn, can change a specific base for ex. A-T into an A-C, etc. Resulting in mutations, eventually malignant.
Jonathan Madriaga


Offline echochartruse

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« Reply #2 on: 22/04/2010 19:45:32 »
Genetic testing
Quote from:
Genetic testing is available to a small number of families at the highest risk of having an inherited predisposition to cancer. Generally, it is necessary to test a person who has had cancer first to identify the genetic change causing cancer in the family. If a genetic change is found, it confirms that the cancers in that family are due to an inherited predisposition to cancer.

Blood relatives who have no signs of cancer can then choose to have testing to find out if they have inherited the altered gene that has been identified and could increase their risk of developing specific types of cancer. If they have inherited a predisposition to cancer, the Familial Cancer Centre will develop a personal program designed to manage their risk.

If a genetic change cannot be found in a person affected by cancer, it remains possible that there is still a genetic predisposition to cancer in the family. Unfortunately not all genetic changes can be detected. The Familial Cancer Centre would advise family members about the chance of developing cancer and what they can do to reduce the risk.

Genetic testing is arranged by the Familial Cancer Centre and is offered only with counselling both before and after the test to discuss its limitations as well as potential benefits.

See your doctor first

Yes the cancer genes can be inherited from both parents or just one. Just because the parents have passed the cancer gene along doesn't mean the children will all have cancer. There are many factors that determine if inherited cancer will be active in each individual.

While all cancers are genetic, not all cancers are inherited. All cancer cells have mutations in their DNA.

Scientists Identify Inherited Gene for Melanoma - National Cancer
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