Washington: Hundreds of novel genes that are mutated in stomach cancer, the second-most lethal cancer worldwide, have been identified.The finding by an international team of scientists, led by researchers from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS) in Singapore and National Cancer Centre of Singapore, paves the way for treatments tailored to the genetic make-up of individual stomach tumours.Stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death globally with more than 700,000 deaths each year, and is particularly common in East Asia.Treatment of this deadly disease is often difficult and unsuccessful because of late detection of tumours and a poor understanding of the causes. In the United States, less than a quarter of patients survive more than five years after diagnosis, even after treatment.“Until now, the genetic abnormalities that cause stomach cancers are still largely unknown, which partially explain the overall poor treatment outcome,” said Patrick Tan, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and associate professor in the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program at Duke-NUS.Tan also leads the Genomic Oncology Program at the Cancer Sciences Institute of Singapore and is a group leader at the Genome Institute of Singapore.Using state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology, the research team analysed tumour and normal tissue from stomach cancer patients, which led to the discovery of the novel gene mutations.“This technology allows us to read the DNA sequence of the genes in each cancer genome. This is also a major team effort involving both basic scientists and clinicians,” said co-senior author Steven G. Rozen, Ph.D., who heads the Computational Systems Biology and Human Genetics Laboratory in Duke-NUS.
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