One of the major scientific projects of the last decade has been the cancer genome project. Different types of cancers have been genomically sequenced and the information made public to researchers.
Last Sunday, a major cancer had its genome released: Breast cancer is officially fully sequenced.
OK, aside from the fact that you like boobs whether because you own a pair or know somebody who does that you like in some form and would prefer not to get cancer, why should you care?
Essentially because this genomic sequencing project means we’ll be able to design more effective treatments, and use treatments we’ve already discovered in new and exciting ways.
As we all know, not all cancers are the same thing. Breast cancer has four major types, for example: basal-like cancers, luminal A and B cancers, and HER-2 enriched cancers. The genome project has already shown similarities between basal-like cancers and other types of cancers in the ovaries or lungs, meaning treatments used for them could be applied to those cancers as well.
It also means that we might be able to track specific types of cancers back to specific sources.
The project is far from complete; there are many cancers that need to be put under the genome microscope.
That said, however, this is a major step forward towards the day, in our lifetimes, where breast cancer killing 35,000 a year is a thing of the past. And no matter what your opinion on breasts, that’s a great thing.