Thursday, November 6, 2008

The cancer genome

Although there are no immediate implications for cancer treatment, I highly recommend this New York Times article on a groundbreaking new study. The scientists essentially created a personal genome for a person with cancer, then compared the DNA in cancer cells with the DNA in healthy cells to lock in on the mutations associated with the disease. The work is fascinating.
Some of the patient’s mutated genes appeared to promote cancer growth. One probably made the cancer drug-resistant by enabling the tumor cells to pump chemotherapy drugs right out of the cell before they could do their work. The other mutated genes seemed to be tumor suppressors, the body’s natural defense against dangerous genetic mistakes.

“Their job is surveillance,” Dr. Wilson said. “If cells start to do something out of control, these genes are there to shut it down. When we find three or four suppressors inactivated, it’s almost like tumor has systematically started to knock out that surveillance mechanism. That makes it tougher to kill. It gets a little freaky. This is unscientific, but we say, gee, it looks like the tumor has a mind of its own, it knows what genes it has to take out to be successful. It’s amazing.”


Sachin Palewar said...

Have you ever gone for CA 125 blood test?

Pragati's readings are 840 per ml. Normal is <35.

Looks like a non-invasive test to me, which can be done regularly and may as well give us some idea about progress or regress.

SG said...

I haven't, but I will ask my doctor about having it done. Since my tumors are difficult to image, it would be nice to have some other measurement that might indicate if the disease is progressing, regressing or staying stable. I've been a little skeptical about the test -- it doesn't work for everybody -- but I should probably give it a try and see what we come up with.
PS: I have a pragati post in the works, haven't forgotten; i hope she's feeling somewhat OK.

Sachin Palewar said...

Ok let me know your CA 125 levels when you have them. Yes its not a standard test for ES, but then there isn't any other test as well. We are planning to go for CA125 every month.

Pragati is stable except her scalp nodule is growing albeit slowly. Thanks for remembering her. All the best.