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Researchers have discovered a link between certain changes in the genome of a tumor and increased chances of death across multiple types of cancer.

Their findings, published in eLife, suggest the percentage of a tumor’s genome with alterations in copy number (or ‘copy number alteration’; CNA) is associated with mortality in a range of cancers. CNA refers to the fact that a genome can contain different numbers of copies of the same gene (the copy number), which can be altered in cancer, leading to the tumor having more or less copies of that same gene.

The research also shows that the percentage of these alterations in a tumor genome, known as the CNA burden, can be measured using a clinically approved sequencing technique, highlighting its potential to predict outcomes for cancer patients in a clinical setting.

“As clinical genomic analysis of tumors and tumor biopsies becomes more widespread, there is a growing need to understand the prognostic factors captured by genomic features including CNA,” says lead author Haley Hieronymus, Senior Research Scientist in Charles Sawyers’ lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, US. “Many specific genes altered by CNA have been associated with cancer outcomes; however, the relationship between

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