Apr 22, 2022

Largest study of whole genome sequencing data reveals ‘treasure trove’ of clues about causes of cancer

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

DNA analysis of thousands of tumors from NHS patients has found a ‘treasure trove’ of clues about the causes of cancer, with genetic mutations providing a personal history of the damage and repair processes each patient has been through.

In the biggest study of its kind, a team of scientists led by Professor Serena Nik-Zainal from Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) and University of Cambridge, analyzed the complete genetic make-up or whole-genome sequences of more than 12,000 NHS cancer patients.

Because of the vast amount of data provided by , the researchers were able to detect patterns in the DNA of cancer—or ‘mutational signatures’—that provide clues about whether a patient has had a past exposure to environmental causes of cancer such as smoking or UV light, or has internal, cellular malfunctions.

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