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A Many-Headed Beast


Cancer is like the mythical many-headed Hydra beast — cut off one head and two more grow back in its place. Like Hercules, researchers must take multiple approaches in their attempts to slay the beast. Complicating the matter is that cancer is not just a single disease, but a name under which many disorders fall, adding to the issues that researchers must deal with. I recently sat down with a group of cancer researchers to talk about the state of the field, and I was reminded that there will never be just one cure for cancer — each monstrous head needs its own remedy.

For our seventh annual cancer issue, Genome Technology looks back on some of the advances of the past year — and there were many to choose from. Here, we aim to give a sampling of the work that is going on in cancer research today. While each study or project on its own may be incremental, together they may add up to something bigger.

Other articles this month follow on the issue's main theme. In her column, Meredith Salisbury discusses one of the limitations facing researchers right now: the dearth of accessible high-quality samples for high throughput analysis. She adds that biobanks need to catch up with the requirements of recent technological advancements. Tracy Vence writes about a collaboration among clinical cytogeneticists who aim to develop standardized, platform-neutral arrays to quickly and accurately diagnose cancer. And in this month's Q&A, Matthew Dublin speaks with Ben-Gurion University's Amos Douvdevani about his efforts to refine an assay to diagnose colorectal cancer. Douvdevani's method appears to be prognostic of both disease and outcome.

Elsewhere, Christie Rizk reports on the state of emulsion PCR. She says that many researchers are tweaking the approach to suit their own needs, which span a variety of projects, not just for sequencing. In addition, Matt looks into how structural variation research is informing advances in personalized medicine.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.