Polish scientists advance research into the origins of cancer

A team of Polish scientists from Poznań have been hailed for their groundbreaking achievement after analysing a huge database of cancer cells, allowing them to create the first comprehensive atlas of somatic mutations in the genes that encode proteins involved in the formation of microRNAs.

As a cancer tumour develops, a vast number of mutations develop in its genome. Only some of these mutations lead to uncontrolled growth and the division of cancer cells.

Mapping these mutations is crucial for scientists working on creating new methods to combat cancer.

Professor Piotr Kozłowski's team at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences has been studying which mutations are most common in particular types of cancer.

The scientists investigated which genes mutated most often and in which tumours.

The team used the data of 10,000 samples taken from the 30 most common types of cancer to create the new atlas, which will also be of interest to researchers working on particular enzymes involved in miRNA processing in the cell.

“We were the first to show precise maps of neoplastic mutations in genes involved in the formation of microRNAs, and at the same time we showed the effect of these mutations on the level of microRNA in a cancer cell. In some cases we also indicated the clinical effects of such mutations. For example, we showed their impact on the patient's chances of survival.” -Professor Kozłowski stated

The new atlas was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nucleic Acids Research (https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkaa1223).