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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Exciting potential UROP: the cancer genome by Matt McGann '00

Great front page article in today’s New York Times on the proposed Human Cancer Genome Project:

The proposed Human Cancer Genome Project, as it is being called for now, would be greater in scale than the Human Genome Project, which mapped the human genetic blueprint. It would seek to determine the DNA sequence of thousands of tumor samples, looking for mutations that give rise to cancer or sustain it.

Proponents say a databank of all such mutations, which would be freely available to researchers, would provide invaluable clues for developing new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent cancer. […]

The project, which might end up with a different name, would determine the sequence of the DNA in at least 12,500 tumor samples, 250 samples from each of 50 major types of cancer. By comparing the order of the letters of the genetic code in the tumor samples with one another and with sequences in healthy tissue, it should be possible to pinpoint mutations responsible for cancer. […]

“The technology available today would not be up to the task of doing this entire project,” said Dr. [Eric] Lander, who was a leader of the Human Genome Project. But he added, “The cost of sequencing is dropping enough that this is no longer unthinkable.”

So, just as my classmates did research with Prof. Lander (who was my Introductory Biology teacher; you can also choose to take his class) and his group on the Human Genome Project, perhaps your class will be doing UROPs with Lander on the Human Cancer Genome Project…

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