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This Week in Nature Reviews Cancer

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This week in Nature Reviews Cancer, Mhairi Skinner — consulting editor of the NCI-Nature Pathway Interaction Database — says a recent article in Nature on multiple myeloma describes the disease's full genome, uncovered novel mutations, and shed light on potential new therapeutic targets. "By studying 38 cancer genomes, the authors have revealed the complexity of pathway deregulation that facilitates multiple myeloma progression. The investigation provides an unprecedented level of detail that would not have been possible through single genome analysis, and has catalysed the discovery of many novel mutations and therapeutic targets that warrant further investigation and may be applicable to other cancers," Skinner says.

Also in Nature Reviews Cancer this week, Nature's Gemma Alderton highlights a study that was published in the journal in March that inferred the evolution of tumors by sequencing single breast cancer cells from two tumors. By using single nucleus sequencing, Alderton says, the researchers were able to find that cells within each tumor subpopulation shared copy-number alterations. "The authors propose that these two breast cancers evolved through 'punctuated clonal evolution', whereby a clonal population with a substantial growth advantage suddenly emerges from a genomically unstable precursor," she adds. "Whether this is generally applicable to other cancers requires further investigation."

And finally in Nature Reviews Cancer this week, researchers from Princeton, the Salk Institute, and the University of California, San Francisco, draw an analogy between the evolution of drug resistance in bacterial communities and malignant tissues. Cancer cells evolve drug resistance through somatic evolution and, unlike other organisms in the body, grow out of control once they reach the metastatic stage, the authors write. They suggest that there is a connection between the evolution of resistance to chemotherapy and antibiotic resistance in bacterial communities. "We propose that this evolution is the result of a programmed and collective stress response performed by interacting cells, and that, given this fundamental connection, studying bacterial communities can provide deeper insights into the dynamics of adaptation and the evolution of cells within tumors," the researchers add.

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