Cancer tumours accumulate hundreds of gene mutations. But it’s unclear which mutations (or combination of mutations) cause tumours to develop. Dr. Daniel Schramek, Canada Research Chair in Functional Cancer Genomics, hopes to solve this puzzle.
Schramek has already developed technologies to assess a tumour’s ability to suppress hundreds of genes in a mouse’s skin, oral cavity or mammary gland. These technologies demonstrate that most mutations that lead to cancer are not random. Instead, they converge onto cellular pathways that are specific to a given cancer type and cause the majority of cases within that type. Now, Schramek and his research team are building on this knowledge to reveal which genes are essential for tumour growth and could therefore constitute targets for new drugs. They are also looking for genes that are capable of resisting particular cancer treatments.