Thursday, May 28, 2015

From the Genetic Literacy Project

Why James Watsonsays the ‘war on cancer’ is fighting the wrong enemy

Andrew Porterfield | May 26, 2015 | Genetic Literacy Project

Since President Richard Nixon asked Congress for $100 million to declare a “war on cancer” in 1971, hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide have been dedicated to research unlocking the mystery of the various forms of the disease, and how to treat it. But some suggest the war may be being fought on the wrong front.

To be sure, our understanding of genetics, cellular growth and cancers has grown exponentially. We know how cancer can be linked to mutations of genes that either encourage abnormal cell growth, or wreck the internal system of checks and balances that normally stymie that growth. We have narrowed the number of those genes down to several hundred. And, we know about genes that can halt abnormal development. We’re inserting them into cancerous cells in trials. Perhaps most significantly, we’re at a stage in which cancer specialists prefer to refer to cancers by genetic makeup, instead of by the traditional organ of first appearance. But for many cancers, none of this is working.......

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