Molecular Science for better, more efficient Healthcare
Thanks to ultramodern methods for sequencing the genome, today’s scientists know of over 300 genes involved in the genesis of cancer. Examples are the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. A more recent example is a gene that has been found in a mutated form in about half of all cases of skin cancer and in many other solid tumours.
‘If we want to beat cancer, we first have to understand the genetics behind it’, said American cancer researcher and Nobel Prize laureate Renato Dulbecco back in the mid-1980s. Later, he added: ‘Any change in the functioning of one gene can therefore be accompanied by changes in the workings of multiple genes and proteins involved in the cell’s self-maintenance and the occurrence of disease.’
The new insights molecular biology had to offer on the genesis of cancer prompted Dulbecco to call for the complete decipherment (sequencing) of the human genome. A rough, incomplete version came out in 2001. Only two years later the sequencing was complete and the full version was published.
The list of genes involved in cancer is by no means complete. This is why present-day scientists participating in the global ‘Cancer Genome Project’ are looking for other key mutations that cause and promote cancer.
The aim of this integrated international research venture is to detect all the mutations that cause the 50 most frequent kinds of cancer in humans.
Once the molecular causes of a disease have been identified, we have a chance of developing targeted diagnostic methods and medicines adapted to the genetic constitution of these degenerate cells. Perhaps in future, physicians will no longer speak of skin or lung cancer. Instead the focus will be on the respective molecular blueprint and tumours with specific mutations that can be diagnosed with gene-based methods and treated with specifically targeted medicines, regardless of the part of the body that has been affected.
Personalised Healthcare is the strategy of the future for cancer but for other diseases as well
Personalised Healthcare is the strategy for the future, not only in the case of cancer but also in fighting infectious diseases like hepatitis C or the immune deficiency syndrome AIDS, metabolic disorders like osteoporosis, or inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.