1 Jan 2009

Cell signaling pathways

Posted by jofr

New scientific studies examined the genetic mutations that underlie cancers. Maybe the role of the major cell signaling pathways is as important as aberrant key genes:

“a team led by Bert Vogelstein, Kenneth Kinzler, and Victor Velculescu at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, had begun a private cancer genome project, starting with breast and colorectal cancer. Now this team and collaborators have sequenced the coding regions of 20,700 genes—nearly all the known genes in the human genome—in 22 glioblastoma and 24 pancreatic cancer samples”

“they report finding hundreds of genes that were mutated in these two cancers. There were an average of 63 altered genes in each pancreatic tumor and 60 per glioblastoma. The mutations varied from tumor to tumor, but the most important tended to fall in the same cell pathways. For example, 12 specific pathways were disrupted in at least 70% of pancreatic tumors. “It points to a new way of looking at cancer,” says Vogelstein, who suggests that treatments should target these pathways, not the products of single genes.”

Jocelyn Kaiser, A Detailed Genetic Portrait of the Deadliest Human Cancers, Science Vol. 321 (2008) 1280-1281

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One Response to “Cell signaling pathways”

  1. While targeting pathways is better than targeting individual genes, it’s not good enough. Cancer is a complex adaptive system and just because you find all extant pathways doesn’t mean that the evolutionary process can’t route around and create new pathways; that’s what it does.

    The frontier in understanding cancer involves digging deeper into the complex evolutionary processes, and in particular looking at the genome level as opposed to the gene level. For those interested, I’ve posted a summary of some recent advances in this regard:

    Cancer as evolution summary


    Rafe Furst

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