On Feb 26, 2007, A.Th.E.N.S. Presents

what are we waiting for in the evolution of cancer?

by Niko Beerenwinkel, PhD

A recent paper by Sj÷blom et al. [Science 13-Oct-2006] is challenging our view of the evolution of cancer as the ordered accumulation of a few mutations. Those authors analyzed over 13,000 genes in breast and colon cancer cells and found 189 genes to be associated with the cancer phenotype. Their data suggests that as many as 20 cancer-associated mutations occur in each tumor. Moreover, mutational patterns were highly diverse among patients complicating the notion of a common "cancer genotype". We will discuss some of these data and their implications for mathematical models of the evolution of cancer. Specifically, we will explore the basic parameters of a simple evolutionary process that predicts dynamics similar to the observed data.