Scientists studying the genetic switches that turn cancer on and off are producing some of the most widely cited papers in medical research today. In a January report, the Philadelphia-based Institute for Scientific Information found that six of the 10 most cited papers in medicine in 1991 examined oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes.

Researchers in this burgeoning field are excited because the recent advances in oncogene studies--such as identification of tumor suppressor genes and the potential for a gene-based test for cancer--are providing the best hope for ultimately bringing the "War on Cancer" to a close.

"The excitement is that for the very first time, the precise genes are being defined, and so we begin to see what's happening at the level of the genetic material of cancer," says Bernard Weinstein, director of the Columbia University Comprehensive Cancer Center. "We hope, therefore, that this will provide clinically useful information."


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