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Aurora magazine

We have the genetic map of cancer

Over 1300 scientists worked on the same project for 10 years: creating a genetic map of cancer. The results of this huge international work have been published in Nature, conquering the cover of the magazine. This is a fundamental discovery for the fight against cancer, which will allow the development of technologies for early diagnosis and new therapies.

The International Cancer Genome Consortium (Icgc) and the US consortium Tcga have joined together in an ambitious project: the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (Pcawg). The researchers analyzed 2,600 genomes belonging to 38 tumor types, also analyzing areas neglected by previous studies.

Much of the genetic analysis of tumors focuses on 1% of the genome, that is, the one with the genes that code for proteins. This saves time and - above all - resources, but pushes to leave aside areas that could prove important. For this reason, the Pcawg has analyzed the genome as a whole, including the regions that regulate the ignition of genes.

The results confirmed the choice made: the regulation of the genes determines both the severity of the tumor and the responses to the various therapies. That's why, in the face of the same tumor, some people react better and others worse to the same drugs. In part it is because of the uniqueness of the patient. In part, however, contribute to the recurrent patterns present in all cancers of a certain type and a certain severity. By identifying these schemes, it is possible to predict which therapies will be most effective and to intervene immediately in the best way.