Impact of genome sequencing on cancer research and treatment
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Impact of genome sequencing on cancer research and treatment

Paul Scotting Associate professor and reader, University of Nottingham
Liz Darlison Macmillan nurse consultant, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Paul Scotting and Liz Darlison explore how genome sequencing can help combat the resistance of cancer cells to the drugs developed to tackle them

Since the sequence of the human genome was first published in 2003, nowhere has its effect been more apparent than in the field of cancer research and, more recently, in cancer treatment. The data obtained from sequencing the genomes of many cancers have identified the gene damage that caused those cancers to develop.

The products of these genes represent potential targets for new therapeutic agents. This has already led to new drugs being developed and some of these have now been in clinical use for several years. In some cases, the results of using these drugs have been rapid and impressive, but the effects have generally been short lived with cancer cells quickly developing resistance and the cancers recurring.

However, genome sequencing has been able to provide an explanation for such drug resistance providing additional new targets for therapeutic intervention and a second wave of new drugs are being developed to combat this problem. This article explains how and why tumours become resistant to the drugs that have been developed and how further genome analysis provides routes to combat resistance. The future for personalised genome analysis in the field of cancer treatment is considered. A glossary of the terms used in this article is provided on page 25.

Cancer Nursing Practice. 14, 10,22-26. doi: 10.7748/cnp.14.10.22.s21


Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 16 June 2015

Accepted: 09 September 2015