Pan-cancer Genome Study: Detecting Tumors Before They Appear

The journal Nature has published the results of the Pan-Cancer genome study. Researchers report that it is possible to detect genetic mutations that lead to cancer even before the cancer appears. In this article, we will tell you what it is all about.
Pan-cancer genome study: detection of tumors before they appear

Cancer is a common disease worldwide. About a third of the population suffers from a malignant tumor at some point in their lives. It causes a huge number of deaths, and Pan-Cancer genome research is trying to stop this phenomenon.

There are several different factors involved in the development of cancer, which we will discuss a little later. But it is interesting that, in a way, the complexity of human nature is the cause of mutations and cellular defects.

Some philosophers and scientists believe that genetic mutations that lead to cancer are as if written into DNA. They even expect that to happen because our bodies and DNA are so complex and detailed.

It is on the basis of these assessments, beliefs and reflections that the scientific community has begun to study the genetic causes of cancer. This is also the basis of the Pan-Cancer genomic study we present in this article and the article in Nature magazine that reported it in detail. The same journal has previously published articles on this topic, as well as other related studies.

The Pan-Cancer genome research team said it analyzed more than 2,500 people, including a total of nearly forty different tumor types. The study involved researchers from different countries; in the end, 1,300 professionals and 13 supercomputers worked on the project to process all the data.

Why cancer exists

We know that cancer is affected by many factors. In other words, with the exception of a few cases, we cannot determine a single factor that causes malignant tumors. This was the starting point for the Pan-Cancer genome study, and its goal was to sequence those genes that could develop into tumors.

The researchers tried to figure out how DNA changes and eventually culminates in the uncontrolled process of abnormal cell growth and proliferation caused by cancer.

Genetic mutations can be attributed to nearly a hundred different factors. These include:

  • Lifestyle: Tobacco, alcohol, and an unbalanced diet are controllable factors known to be involved in the development of cancer. Smoking in particular is one of the worst.
  • Age: Aging makes it harder for cells to fight cancer, causing uncontrolled cell proliferation.
  • Heredity: Humans can pass on genetic mutations, i.e. parents can pass it on to their children, for example.
  • Luck: A mutation in DNA may be due to an unknown cause. This type of mutation is thought to be a coincidence trade, but even science has not been able to determine its origin. It is problematic that almost 60% of all tumors have to be compartmentalized for this cause.
Some philosophers and scientists believe that genetic mutations that lead to cancer are as if written into DNA.

A research project mapping human genetics

Pan-Cancer genome research is part of a larger human genome research project that began in 1990. It was started by the international scientific community to uncover the secrets of human DNA.

The research project on human genetics was due to end in 2005, but it had already ended two years earlier. In 2003, a team of researchers released information that they had encoded all of a person’s genetic information.

Thanks to all this information, progress was also made in the Pan-Cancer genome study. Now that scientists have found out everything about human DNA, it is now possible to study which parts change in each disease, including cancer.

Both projects were funded by different communities and states, but there was still a lack of funds. Many of the smaller studies that have originated from larger projects are not progressing because no funding can be found for them. Researchers have stated that they have not been paid for the extra work they do, and at the same time it is uncertain whether the projects will continue to receive funding in the future.

Despite these difficulties, the research project mapping human inheritance took humanity at least one step further in the following areas:

  • Now everything possible is known from human DNA.
  • Storing and sharing data among researchers.
  • Techniques for analyzing genetic information in medicine have been improved.
  • Discussions on the legality of this information have begun.
Cancer causes a huge number of deaths, and Pan-Cancer genome research is trying to stop this phenomenon.
Pan-Cancer genome research is part of a larger human genome research project.

Benefits of Pan-Cancer Genome Research

The researchers involved in the study know that their findings are important, but that still doesn’t change the cancer treatments being done today. The benefits of Pan-Cancer genome research will be seen in the long run. In any case, all the information collected is important for the future.

With the help of genetic information, treatment can be tailored to each patient individually. In the future, we will enter an era of personalized oncology treatment, where the patient’s medication can also be tailored to his or her needs.

The researchers also predict that the cancer could be detected before it breaks out or at a very early stage, perhaps by taking advantage of liquid specimens. This means that if cells begin to mutate and push the altered DNA into the human bloodstream, there are methods for medical professionals to detect it.

As always in the field of medicine, on this subject we will face both legal and ethical issues. For example, could an insurance company refuse to insure a person who is known to be a carrier of a cancer mutation?

So there is plenty to explore and think about, but it can be said with certainty that researchers have already made huge strides. We may now be a little closer to victory in the fight against cancer, and who knows, maybe we will win it even before the disease breaks out.

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