An international team of researchers led by Lucio Miele, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair of Genetics at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health New Orleans School of Medicine, and Justin Stebbing, PhD, Professor of Cancer Medicine and Medical Oncology at Imperial College of Medicine in London, has found new genetic mutations that promote the survival of cancer cells. The research also provided a clearer understanding of how some cancer cells are able to resist treatment. The findings were published online on March 23, 2018 in PLOS ONE. The open-access article is titled “Novel Putative Drivers Revealed by Targeted Exome Sequencing of Advanced Solid Tumors.” "All cancers are caused by genetic damage, mutations to key genes that control the lives of cells," notes Dr. Miele, who also heads the LSU Health New Orleans Precision Medicine Program. "Mutant genes that cancers depend upon for survival are called 'driver' mutations." The researchers tested genes in 44 cancers that no longer responded to therapy. These are not often tested in clinical practice. The tumor types included breast, lung, colorectal, sarcomas, neuroendocrine, gastric, and ovarian, among others. The scientists found that these advanced cancers had selected many new possible "driver" mutations never described before, in addition to drivers already known -- the cancers had evolved new driver mutations to become resistant. No two cancers were genetically identical, even cancers of the same organs that looked the same under a microscope.
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