Based on early successes with targeted drug therapy, the cancer research community prioritized sequencing the genomes of thousands of tumor samples to identify every gene mutated in cancer. Approximately 140 such genes have been identified to date. They can be classified into three main functional groups according to their roles in normal cell biology: genes that affect cell growth and survival, cell fate, and genome maintenance. Cancers can now be classified not only by the type of tissue and cell that they affect, but also by the genes that are mutated. As Dr. Charles Sawyers reveals, both types of classification are necessary for devising new, targeted therapies.
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Sixty years after Watson and Crick revealed the structure of the DNA double helix, the ability to routinely sequence and analyze individual genomes is revolutionizing the practice of medicine.
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