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Surprising Science

To Cure Cancer, Industrialize Genome Research

The state of Texas has created a $3 billion fund to pay for a new cancer research initiative. By building on the International Cancer Genome Consortium, it aims to cure five kinds of cancer.

What’s the Latest Development?

A new cancer center in Houston, Texas, is ready to spend $3 billion to scale new research methods in hopes of finding the cause of five yet-to-be-determined cancers. The lead researcher of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Ron Depinho, says that by using genetically modified mice, genetic mutations that appear in humans can be recreated one at a time to better understand how cancer forms. “If this process can be scaled up it will, as he puts it, allow cancer’s genetic generals to be distinguished from the foot soldiers.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The Center will spend taxpayer dollars as well as accept donations from wealthy donors like Texas’ own T. Boone Pickens and Ross Perot. The research itself will build on the work of the International Cancer Genome Consortium which involves 39 projects in four continents and uses high-throughput DNA-sequencing to examine 50 sorts of tumor. Dr. Depinho’s main purpose is to translate this research into treatment for cancer patients by ‘industrializing’ aspects of genomic and biological research.

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