27 novel genes which may prevent cancer from forming have been pinpointed by a new statistical model, in an analysis of over 2k tumors for 12 cancer types in human. These findings can help create new cancer treatments which will target these genes and has opened new avenues for cancer research. Using this powerful toolkit, rare tumor suppressor genes that cause cancer when lost in mutated cells has been found, said Jonas Demeulemeester, researcher and author of the paper at the Francis Crick Institute. He further added that this could make way for the development of personalized cancer treatment.
They have found two copies of tumor suppressor genes in cells which prevent them from turning cancerous. These two gene copy deletions can offer clues for tumor suppressor genes in cancer. Cancer samples generally contain both cancerous and healthy cells, in proportions yet unknown and this makes it difficult for working out if just a single copy or both copies of the gene have been lost in cancer cells. Additionally, it can be difficult to differentiate between harmful deletions of tumor suppressor genes and non harmful deletions of other genes, present at fragile areas along the genome.
The team developed computational tools so as to get rid of these issues and used them to analyze over 2k of tumors from 12 cancer types, including lung, bowel, and breast cancer. After determining the relative proportions of cancerous and healthy cells in every sample, they can work out the number of copies of each gene in cancer cells. The result of the analysis stated that 96 regions of the human genome are lost during tumor development.