The complexity of cancer genetics

breast cancer graph
Image: Natrajan, R. et al.

The following is an edited excerpt.

As scientists, we seek to investigate the world through observation, classification, and prediction, but every distinction we make dissolves once we look closely enough: even the line between life and non-life is blurred.

Cancer geneticists are only now running up against this as we attempt to decipher the specific changes to the genetic code responsible for driving cancer progression. To develop a specific drug for a specific cancer, we need to be able to tell the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell in a meaningful way.

Changes that occur in the genome during cancer initiation and progression involve massive genetic rearrangements, damage, and mutation. This makes it difficult to distinguish between causes and consequences of the cancer.

Read the full story here: Scicurious Guest Writer! Beyond the code: addressing complexity in cancer genetics

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