Huge DNA analysis uncovers new cancer clues

UK scientists have undertaken a huge “archaeological dig” of cancer in the UK, analyzing the complete genetic make-up – or whole genome sequence – of tumors from about 12,000 patients, the BBC reports.

The team says the unprecedented amount of data allowed them to uncover new patterns in the DNA of cancer – hinting at causes that are not yet understood.

With thousands of genetic changes seen in each tumor they analyzed, researchers were able to detect specific combinations of genetic alterations – so-called “mutational signatures” – that may be key to cancers developing.

Comparing the data to other international genetic cancer projects, they confirmed patterns that are already known, and uncovered 58 new ones.

They add that the genetic clues will ultimately help improve diagnosis and treatment.

The research is published in Science.

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