NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
July 26, 2005 • Volume 2 / Number 30 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Featured Article

"Jumping" DNA: A Tool for Finding Cancer Genes

Researchers have developed a new method of inducing cancer in mice and then rapidly identifying the genes involved. The mice are engineered to carry bits of DNA called transposons that, in the presence of a particular protein, jump randomly around the chromosomes of mouse cells, occasionally landing in genes and causing mutations.

As genetic mutations accumulate, the mice develop aggressive tumors and die. Researchers can pinpoint which genes were mutated by tracking molecular "tags" that mark where the transposons inserted themselves. Commonly mutated genes in mouse tumors may be versions of cancer genes in people.

"We think this is a powerful way to identify cancer genes for many different cancers," says Dr. Neal Copeland of the Mouse Cancer Genetics Program in the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Center for Cancer Research. "A number of the cancer genes we have found so far in the mice are known cancer genes in humans."  Read more  

Director's Update

The Cancer Genome: An Important Project for a New Era

Why do colon polyps in some patients never amount to more than a benign nodule, while in other patients they progress to a mortal threat? Why do two patients with the "same" type and stage of breast cancer respond so differently to the same treatment? The answers lie in gaining a deeper understanding of the genetic differences between cancer types. Working with the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), NCI hopes to undertake a project to characterize the human cancer genome, which we believe will allow us to gain such an understanding and much more.

Although we know more about the molecular basis of many cancers than we did just 5 years ago, the heterogeneity of these approximately 200 diseases has precluded a comprehensive understanding of the genetic aberrations that fuel them. A more systematic understanding could elucidate the cellular pathways that spur cancer cell growth and enable their spread throughout the body. This information, in turn, will provide a catalog of therapeutic targets and allow clinical trials to focus on patients who are most likely to respond to an agent based on knowledge of patients' tumor genetics. And these are just some of the expected benefits.  Read more  

The NCI Cancer Bulletin is produced by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). NCI, which was established in 1937, leads the national effort to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer. Through basic, clinical, and population-based biomedical research and training, NCI conducts and supports research that will lead to a future in which we can identify the environmental and genetic causes of cancer, prevent cancer before it starts, identify cancers that do develop at the earliest stage, eliminate cancers through innovative treatment interventions, and biologically control those cancers that we cannot eliminate so they become manageable, chronic diseases.

For more information on cancer, call 1-800-4-CANCER or visit http://www.cancer.gov.

NCI Cancer Bulletin staff can be reached at ncicancerbulletin@mail.nih.gov.