Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Advancing biology of "normal DNA" and understanding of tumors all point to prevention


At UICC, World Cancer Congress (August 28, 2012), Dr. Blackburn (http://biochemistry.ucsf.edu/labs/blackburn/) emphasizes that telomere length reflects accumulated stresses and that shortening telomeres are related to increased risk of cancer and other chronic diseases typically associated with aging. Importantly, shortening accumulates across the life course. The growing biologic understanding of this measure of DNA stability turns our focus and priority to prevention.

A second presentation by Dr. Eisenhauer (http://www.queensu.ca/news/articles/profiles/elizabeth-eisenhauer), an internationally recognized gynecologic oncologist pointed to the complexity of mutations in tumors and the long way we are from providing real time genomic medicine to guide cancer treatment. Supporting this position is the documented heterogeneity within tumors (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1113205) and the evidence of more than 7000 mutations in 103 breast cancer samples  (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v486/n7403/full/nature11154.html)

These two juxtaposed insights point to the priority for prevention and the imperative of working to apply the prevention knowledge we already have.

Many of our strategies are summarized in a recent paper (see http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10552-012-9924-y) or details on our blog.




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