Professor Mike Stratton, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Essex, England, spoke with the BBC today, announcing that a form of melanoma and of lung cancer, have been decoded on the genetic level, allowing researchers to see the amount of abnormality in an individual cell. This will help to revolutionize the development of future cancer treatments, wherein samples of the cancers cells in individual patients will be analyzed and mapped, allowing for specialized prescriptions on a case-by-case level. Imagine where there were no more stab-in-the-dark treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, just “take these for a week or so and then we’ll check up.”
The researchers have catalogued 30,000+ errors in the genetic code of the melanoma, and 23,000+ errors in the lung cancer. From the rate of mutation found in the latter’s genetic sequence, scientists figure that one mutation occurs from every 15 cigarettes one inhales. However, evidence gathered from people who quit indicates that the mutations are not permanent and that within a few years of cessation the lungs repair themselves.
Of course, by the time my cigarette habit gets the better of my bronchia, I fully anticipate that the scientists around the globe studying brain, stomach, and pancreatic cancers will have compiled their research into the cancer catalogue. Shoot, they already got lung cancer – what do I have to worry? No word yet from testicular cancers and whether they’ll drop trou to scientists.