A neat paper was just published in Nature, where they did complete genome sequencing of the prostate cancer tumors from seven advanced/aggressive prostate cancer patients.
The genomic complexity of primary human prostate cancer
Why did they want to do this? They hoped to identify some new features of aggressive prostate cancer that could be exploited for treatment purposes. A mutation obliterates Gene X? Maybe administering Protein X helps. A chromosomal rearrangement plops a strong promoter in front of Gene A? Maybe administering inhibitor of Protein A helps. Heck, maybe everyone has a little mutation or deletion or something going on at a particular region that doesnt make a bit of difference until youve got ‘cancer’ set into motion, so we could figure out some ‘you need to watch out for…’ genetic tests in the future.
Yeah, its fishing, but they were going to learn something, whether it translated into any immediate help for prostate cancer patients or not.
I dont know about you all– Maybe Orac has a better hold on ‘cancer’ conceptually than I do– but I always kinda thought that “First there are some mutations, and that causes some mistakes in genome replication, and then there is some messy chromosomal rearrangements and such, which make the whole thing worse–> cancer.”
I figured genomes got pretty messy in tumors, but I dont think I fully comprehend the magnitude of the chromosomal train-wreck of ‘prostate cancer’.
There were: 53, 67, 90, 213, 133, 156, 43 chromosomal rearrangements.
43, yeah, okay, I would believe that. Thats “a lot” to me. But 213??? HOLY CRAP. Look at this! Its like ‘cancer’ just took these folks genomes and shuffled em like a deck of cards. On average, there were ~108 chromosomal abnormalities in these folks tumors. Not even getting to the mutations, just gross chromosomal shuffling.
And we arent talking a mutation here, a tiny deletion there– we are talking huge chunks of DNA in the wrong place. Different spot on the ‘right’ chromosome, different chromosome all together… As one of the authors put it:
If the genome was a book, instead of just looking for out-of-place letters or misspelled words, whole genome sequencing looks for whole paragraphs that are in the wrong place.
Man. What a mess.
And people wonder why we havent cured ‘cancer’ yet. *rolleyes*
On a side note, please note the lulz in that Yahoo article: gratuitous reference to ‘JUNK DNA!’, Creationist excited about gratuitous reference to ‘JUNK DNA!’, woo-er giving medical advice on how we wouldnt have cancer if everyones blood was at the right pH, and a man-jerk bitching about how much money boob cancer gets. Awesome. LOL.