Cancer Genomics and Metabolomics

Cancer genomics is the study of the totality of DNA sequence and gene expression differences between tumour cells and normal host cells. It aims to understand the genetic basis of tumour cell proliferation and the evolution of the cancer genome under mutation and selection by the body environment, the immune system and therapeutic interventions. Metabolomics research is being used to discover diagnostic cancer biomarkers in the clinic, to better understand its complex heterogeneous nature, to discover pathways involved in cancer that could be used for new targets and to monitor metabolic biomarkers during therapeutic intervention. These metabolomics approaches may also provide clues to personalized cancer treatments by providing useful information to the clinician about the cancer patient’s response to medical interventions. The ultimate goal of most metabolomics cancer studies is to discover cancer-specific diagnostic, prognostic or predictive biomarkers for a patient.

In cancer cells, small changes in the genetic letters can change what a genomic word or sentence means. A changed letter can cause the cell to make a protein that doesn’t allow the cell to work as it should. These proteins can make cells grow quickly and cause damage to neighboring cells. By studying the cancer genome, scientists can discover what letter changes are causing a cell to become a cancer. Metabolomics, which represents a growing field in systems biology, is the study of the concentrations and fluxes of small molecular metabolites (e.g. amino acids, organic acids, fatty acids and sugars) presented in biofluids, cells, tissue or organs of living systems. most endogenous metabolites are identical across different cells, tissues and organs, and can be straightforward to track the metabolite level changes between different species. All these features make metabolic profiling a much more direct and simpler approach to collect useful information.

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