Scientists in the Tumor Development Program discovered a novel mechanism driving cancer. Some tumors develop after genetic and epigenetic alterations in certain genes (“mutator genes”), resulting in genomic instability and the rapid accumulation of mutations in many cancer genes that drive tumorigenesis. Research on genetic instability has provided a better understanding of tumor development and progression, and has already yielded useful clinical tests for diagnosis of hereditary cancer families and for cancer prognosis.
How our research helps improve health
Already, discoveries by scientists in this program have resulted in a synthetic vitamin A-like drug (retinoid) that is approved for treatment of some types of cancer. Genetically engineered mouse strains have been created by program scientists to serve as models for studying the origins of breast cancer and for testing new therapies to treat it.
Understanding how the genetic and epigenetic changes in cancer arise, the gene targets of such changes and the consequences of inappropriate gene regulation can reveal new strategies for drug discovery or suggest optimal approaches for treating individual patients.