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Normal today, cancer tomorrow

Researchers discover how cancer can develop overnight

Vanessa Schipani
Without warning cancer can arise from a single catastrophic chromosomal event involving tens to hundreds of breaks in the DNA that are haphazardly pieced back together, researchers reported in the January 7th issue of Cell.
Broken chromosomes
Wikimedia commons/Square87
"In most cancers, a handful of mutations are accumulated over time, gradually evolving into a more aggressive form," said linkurl:Peter Campbell,;http://www.sanger.ac.uk/research/faculty/pcampbell/ blood oncologist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and lead author of the study. But in some situations, he adds, cancer can come out of nowhere, leaving its victim little time for treatment. "What is particularly exciting about this observation is that it points to a novel mechanism that affects the stability of the genome in a very localized way," said linkurl:Ronald DePinho,;http://www.hms.harvard.edu/dms/bbs/fac/depinho.html cancer geneticist at the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Harvard University, who was not involved in the study. "This paper explains how cancer can form...
P.J. Stephens et al., "Massive Genomic Rearrangement Acquired in Single Catastrophic Event during Cancer Developement," Cell, 144:27-40, 2011.



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