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Milestone study probes cancer origin
BBC ^ | 2013 August 14 | James Gallagher

Posted on 08/17/2013 4:54:38 PM PDT by CutePuppy

Scientists are reporting a significant milestone for cancer research after charting 21 major mutations behind the vast majority of tumours.

The disruptive changes to the genetic code, reported in Nature, accounted for 97% of the 30 most common cancers.

Finding out what causes the mutations could lead to new treatments. Some causes, such as smoking are known, but more than half are still a mystery.

Cancer Research UK said it was a fascinating and important study.

A tumour starts when one of the building blocks of bodies, a cell, goes wrong. Over the course of a lifetime cells pick up an array of mutations which can eventually transform them into deadly tumours which grow uncontrollably.

Cancer origins.

The international team of researchers was looking for the causes of those mutations as part of the largest-ever analysis of cancer genomes.

The well-known ones such as UV damage and smoking mutate the DNA, increasing the odds of cancer.

But each also leaves behind a unique hallmark - a piece of "genetic graffiti" - that shows if smoking or UV radiation has mutated the DNA.

Researchers ... hunted for more examples of "graffiti" in 7,042 samples taken from the 30 most common cancers.

The found that 21 separate "graffiti signatures" could account for 97% of the mutations which led to cancer.

Prof Sir Mike Stratton, the director of the Sanger Institute, told the BBC: "I'm very excited. Hidden within the cancer genome are these patterns, these signatures, which tell us what is actually causing cancer in the first place - that's a major insight to have. ..... < snip >

..... "The genetic fingerprints ... identify several new processes driving the development of cancer ..... < snip >

(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: adultstemcells; ascs; cancer; embryonicstemcells; escs; helixmakemineadouble; medicine; pattern; smoking; stemcells; vlincrna; vlinkrna
Big Data pattern recognition analysis may significantly speed up and potentially provide early diagnostics and methods of cancer treatments or prevention that are gentle on the system. Also this may avoid a number of false starts and trials that work on mice but not in human trials due to differences in the DNA.

Possibly related: Remnants of Ancient Viruses in Human Genome May Play Role in Cancer - SN, 2013 August 14

Maybe, "junk DNA" is not all "junk"? If just 1% more is not junk, it increases "non-junk DNA" by 50% - quite a lot for useful research. The discovery of vlincRNA may also explain why embryonic stem cells have not been nearly as useful as adult stem cells in research and developing treatments.

Picture provided in the article is unenlightening, so not displayed here, to save the bandwidth.

1 posted on 08/17/2013 4:54:38 PM PDT by CutePuppy
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To: neverdem; sun7
In case you might be interested:

"Hidden within the cancer genome are these patterns, these signatures, which tell us what is actually causing cancer in the first place - that's a major insight to have."

2 posted on 08/17/2013 4:56:47 PM PDT by CutePuppy (If you don't ask the right questions you may not get the right answers)
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To: CutePuppy
Some causes, such as smoking are known, but more than half are still a mystery.

We have here an example of why I dislike reading science written for the lay person.

DNA mutates randomly. We have several DNA repair enzymes, which do a pretty good--but not perfect--job of fixing the random mutations. Some things, like high doses of radiation, certain chemicals, or UV light, cause a higher than random rate of mutation. This higher than random rate can overwhelm the repair enzymes, causing a mutation to be "fixed" into the genome. The inaccuracy in this report is that, since there is *always* a chance that a spontaneous and random mutation will be "fixed" in the genome, this process really is not a mystery.

We have thousands of viruses residing in our genome. In some cases, viral DNA (there is no RNA in the genome) is necessary for life. A gene that all mammals use to form the placenta comes from a virus.

3 posted on 08/17/2013 5:12:41 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: exDemMom
We have here an example of why I dislike reading science written for the lay person.

"Lost in translation" for lay person :-)

I think what author tried to do is "classify" the signatures "related" to different potential causes that could affect immune system in some people, to make it more susceptible to a mutation getting "fixed". Later in the article:


4 posted on 08/17/2013 5:43:35 PM PDT by CutePuppy (If you don't ask the right questions you may not get the right answers)
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To: CutePuppy
Finding out what causes the mutations could lead to new treatments. Some causes, such as smoking are known, There used to be a group of people on FR who liked to spread the idea that smoking is not really all that bad for you and the proclaimed dangers of smoking are just a bunch of propaganda. I have sometimes wondered how these people have been doing.
5 posted on 08/17/2013 6:34:54 PM PDT by wideminded
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To: CutePuppy

That second one could make a nice standalone topic, thanks CP.


6 posted on 08/17/2013 7:28:16 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (It's no coincidence that some "conservatives" echo the hard left.)
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To: CutePuppy

In other news, there are only 21 reasons that account for 97% of traffic accidents, only 21 reasons that account for 97% of suicides, only 21 reasons that account for 97% of heart attacks, only 21 reasons that account for 97% of new diabetes cases, etc.


7 posted on 08/17/2013 7:51:34 PM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
See Pareto Principle (aka 80/20 Rule, Golden Rule, the Law of Vital Few, etc.), i.e. variations of 20% of "input" are responsible for 80% of "output".
8 posted on 08/17/2013 8:09:16 PM PDT by CutePuppy (If you don't ask the right questions you may not get the right answers)
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To: SunkenCiv

Yes, it may have a different / separate subplot. Feel free to post it.


9 posted on 08/17/2013 8:11:53 PM PDT by CutePuppy (If you don't ask the right questions you may not get the right answers)
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To: wideminded
There used to be a group of people on FR who liked to spread the idea that smoking is not really all that bad for you and the proclaimed dangers of smoking are just a bunch of propaganda.

Thanks for your concern. I am doing just fine at 2-2.5 packs a day (non-filtered) for over 3 decades, despite having not visited docs since 1991 (or maybe because of that). These are some of my discussions on the subject on FR: thread1, thread2, thread3, thread4 (omitting few).

There was also a more recent debate (with some of new research data I found since then), at the nootropic & life-extension forum here (the second half of the post has TOC for the discussion highlights). As always, there was no contest -- all the hard science (experiment, lab analysis) was on my side, while poor antismoking hysterics could only find soft/junk science (see items #8, #15, #16 in the above TOC for explanation of the difference).

The more one learns what real science (in contrast to second hand and third hand retelling) actually discovered about this ancient medicinal plant, the better it looks. Any time some new biochemical lever of longevity is discovered (usually hailed as the latest 'fountain of youth' in the press), the literature search uncovers that the tobacco smoke, if it has any effect on it, it pushes the same lever in the right direction.

10 posted on 08/17/2013 9:32:15 PM PDT by nightlight7
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To: exDemMom
The inaccuracy in this report is that, since there is *always* a chance that a spontaneous and random mutation will be "fixed" in the genome, this process really is not a mystery.

The article clearly says the mysteries are what caused the mutations that led to cancer, not how or why mutations occur. It may be your opinion that all cancers are caused by spontaneous and random mutations; but that is not the premise of the article, hence no inaccuracy there. Besides, there are plenty of cancer patients young and old without any known or significant exposure to any of the risk factors you cited. How is cancer not still a mystery?!

We have thousands of viruses residing in our genome. In some cases, viral DNA (there is no RNA in the genome) is necessary for life. A gene that all mammals use to form the placenta comes from a virus.

And what does this entire paragraph have to do with the topic at hand?

Apparently, people have different likes and dislikes. I personally much prefer reading about science written for the lay person, than reading from lay persons eager to show off their knowledge after reading about something off the Internet or elsewhere.

11 posted on 08/18/2013 12:49:10 AM PDT by sun7
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To: CutePuppy

Thanks for pinging. Yes, I am interested simply because I believe cancer will one day be curable.

I hope they will find something useful at the end of this study; but cancer has stricken such diverse groups of people across all age ranges that I’m not optimistic they can pinpoint exactly the things that definitively cause cancer.

I once read from a reliable source that [all] cancer is viral. The immune system therefore plays a decisive role in determining if a person will get cancer. I think that explains why some heavy smokers are fine while non-smokers come down with lung cancer. And, incidentally, a large % of melanoma are found on skin never exposed to the sun; so much about UV from the sun causing cancer.

Instead of trying to track down the apparently very elusive cause(s), which we have had little success after all these years, it seems the more promising approach is to try to find some common physiological or metabolic properties among cancer cells, and then to target them specifically; like what you posted earlier about the findings on the protein CPTP.

Even with our advances in technology and research capabilities, we definitely can use some serendipity to make a breakthrough like in the old days.


12 posted on 08/18/2013 1:25:44 AM PDT by sun7
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To: nightlight7

Wow, speak of the ..

Did you just happen to stumble onto this thread?


13 posted on 08/18/2013 1:28:25 AM PDT by sun7
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To: sun7
Did you just happen to stumble onto this thread?

Medicinal topics are usually interesting. The thread was short enough that I spotted the post on smoking which seemingly was referring to my previous discussions here, and I couldn't resists.

14 posted on 08/18/2013 12:28:51 PM PDT by nightlight7
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To: wideminded
There used to be a group of people on FR who liked to spread the idea that smoking is not really all that bad for you and the proclaimed dangers of smoking are just a bunch of propaganda.

They are still here. Worse they dispute the scientific evidence that smoking puts a fetus at risk. Sick individuals trying to justify their own addiction, by ignoring/downgrading the risk to the unborn.

15 posted on 08/18/2013 12:36:27 PM PDT by Drango (A liberal's compassion is limited only by the size of someone else's wallet.)
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To: sun7

That's exactly the point of such a large and broad study - to find commonalities based on the pattern of cancer signatures, rather than the ones we are paying attention to at this time (e.g., age, ethnicity, environment, exposure, diet, habits, genetics etc.) - it may point us in the right direction and allow much earlier diagnostics and better screening for potentially effected individuals based on DNA signatures (genetically predisposed from birth or due to "fixed" mutation) rather than grouping by broad "medieval" observational / statistical categories of "smoker," "red meat eater," "suntan/UV" etc.

Actually, unless you mean the viral mutation of genome, externally "the cause" is more commonly thought of as "inflammation", which may be caused by viruses, bacteria (e.g., H.pylori), radiation and other factors that may undermine individual immune systems from effectively dealing with it. BTW, id you look at CPTP, it specifically blocks cellular mechanism of inflammation.

Actually, the study is independent and differs from others in that it is a "macro" study, trying to "classify" common cancer "causes" scientifically based on DNA mutations signatures rather than ad hoc "environment" categories based on often flawed observations or even often fraudulent group biases (political, racial, dietetic, environmental etc.).

It already reduced "common cause" of more than 200 cancers down to 21 signatures, which may lead to better understanding and discovery of commonality and reduction of numbers and higher effectiveness of treatments. It may also happen that only a subset of these 21 signatures is relevant, further reducing the amount of effort needed for advancement of screening.

In addition (rather than "instead of"), this study is complementary to others in that it might significantly reduce the number of false assumptions and allow other scientists to deal with only certain genetically significant signatures.

Far from being [nearly] useless, this study may turn out to become a specific "reference" study, sort of Cancer Genome Project.

Serendipity and Eureka moments happen every day, even within the large "cold" prim scientific studies, only they are now based on [hopefully] better scientific knowledge and understanding. Count on it! :-)

Also take a look at the second article, within my first comment - probably a serendipitous development of someone taking a look at part of "junk DNA" and finding a possible cancer cure.

16 posted on 08/18/2013 3:03:33 PM PDT by CutePuppy (If you don't ask the right questions you may not get the right answers)
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To: CutePuppy

Can’t disagree with the things you said and, I don’t have any more specifics because everything I know comes from what I read. Thank you very much for taking the time to critique my comment; now no one can come away with any misunderstanding of what’s going on.

I did skim through everything in your post #2 before commenting. It would be a big time-saver if only we knew which 20% of an article to read to get 80% of the information. By the way, I pointed out what I considered irrelevant from another poster after reading enough to know what both articles are about, not as a result of missing something.

And to set the record straight on serendipity, I actually firmly believe almost everything we attribute to luck or accept as random are anything but.


17 posted on 08/19/2013 11:17:32 PM PDT by sun7
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To: sun7
And to set the record straight on serendipity, I actually firmly believe almost everything we attribute to luck or accept as random are anything but.

Definitely. There is a saying I was fortunate to hear early in life:
"It takes a lifetime of effort and determination to become an overnight success."

18 posted on 08/20/2013 1:12:55 AM PDT by CutePuppy (If you don't ask the right questions you may not get the right answers)
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