Cancer Genetics

Published September 2015 Updated February 2016 19 lectures
Prof. Vundavalli Murty
Columbia University Medical Center, USA

Cancer is a genetic disease because it is caused by mutations. Cancer Genetics is the discipline of understanding the genetic processes underlying tumor development.... read more

Genetics play a unique role in the laboratory and in clinic in understanding the mechanisms of transformation of a normal cell to cancer, prediction of risk of developing cancer, early detection, prevention, prognosis and therapy. Nearly all cancers arise from a single cell harboring a combination of either or both inherited and/or somatic alterations in genetic material.
Once initiated, cancer cells continuously evolve by acquiring additional and complex mutations in the genetic material leading to uncontrolled cell proliferation (cell cycle deregulation) and spreading to other organs (metastasis). The complexity of genetic aberrations includes changes in chromosome number and structure, single nucleotide changes, DNA methylation and modifications in non-coding RNA, among many others. These mutations affect protein coding genes, noncoding DNA and epigenetic modifications.

In the recent decades we have witnessed dramatic developments in the technologies available for analyzing genomes. Recent advances in genomic technologies and bioinformatics are providing crucial tools to understand the role of genetics in mechanisms of transformation, progression, and metastasis of cancer cells. These advances are paving ways to achieve the goal of personalized treatment of cancer. The course on Cancer Genetics will address most of these cutting-edge developments in cancer biology.

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