Fingerprints in the Genome

Despite decades of investigation, no one really knows why hotspots of certain cancers exist. For example, a worldwide average of 5.9 people per 100,000 develop esophageal cancer each year, but in Malawi that number is 24 in 100,000.
To solve these mysteries, the Mutographs of Cancer project is analyzing tumor DNA to build a database of “fingerprints” left behind by mutational processes, like those caused by UV light.
The project’s findings could save thousands of lives, but there’s a long road ahead, involving “a combination of large-scale epidemiology and large-scale genomics that haven’t been married together in this way before,” says team leader Mike Stratton.

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