New study sheds light on role of mutations in metastasized cancer

Approximately 95% of cancer mortality is caused by metastasis. This fact is what motivates many cancer researchers to focus on finding new ways to stop or kill the growth of metastatic cancer cells. A new paper published in Nature Genetics focuses on research done to find out how cancers metastasize using new next-generation sequencing tools, specifically targeting endometrial cancer. The researchers performed whole-exome sequencing of 98 tumor biopsies and analyzed The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data to identify new recurrent alterations in primary tumors.

William Gibson, one of the first authors of the paper and a current MD-PhD student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, explained that it is often difficult to obtain paired samples of primary and metastatic tumors. “One cohort of patients in whom you can obtain primary and metastatic tissue is in endometrial cancer patients for whom both the primary tumor and abdominal metastases are resected during the same operation. Additional research into endometrial cancer in particular is important as it is the second most common cause of gynecologic cancer mortality.” This led Gibson and his colleagues to focus on endometrial cancer for the study.

Thursday, June 30, 2016