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First Whole Cancer Genome Sequenced

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the gee-gnome-sounds-like-a-good-open-source-project dept.

Biotech 115

dooling writes "A paper detailing the sequencing of the first human cancer genome will be published in the 6 November 2008 issue of Nature. This is not only the first cancer genome published, it is the first female genome as well. You can read the paper's abstract, DNA sequencing of a cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukaemia genome, or the story in Science News. This issue of Nature also has articles on the sequencing of the first African and Asian genomes. The sequencing in all three articles was done using the Illumina Genome Analyzer, one of the massively parallel, next-generation genome sequencing platforms."

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Next gen sequencers are fucking awesome (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25652983)

Remember northern blots? Remember how real time PCR and microarrays blew them out of the water? Next gen sequencers take those, divide them by zero in a black hole and kick Chuck Norris' ass 9 ways from Sunday.

Re:Next gen sequencers are fucking awesome (4, Interesting)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653083)

Just wait until nanopore sequencing [wikipedia.org] really takes off. Now that shit is awesome.

Re:Next gen sequencers are fucking awesome (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653281)

Nanopore...hmmm... Sounds to me thats one step closer to those DNA readers in Gattaca.

Re:Next gen sequencers are fucking awesome (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653419)

Candy colored clown! Candy colored clown!

A candy colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room everynight
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
Go to sleep, everything is alright

Re:Next gen sequencers are fucking awesome (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655105)

Just wait until nanoprobes [wikipedia.org] really take off. Now that shit is really awesome.

Re:Next gen sequencers are fucking awesome (3, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655545)

Remember northern blots?

Honestly? No, I've BLOTTED it out.

It's so rare you get to make a molecular-biology related pun, you have to take every opportunity you get, even if they are that bad. I'm sorry.

Re:Next gen sequencers are fucking awesome (3, Funny)

J.Y.Kelly (828209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25657973)

Remember northern blots?

Honestly? No, I've BLOTTED it out.

It's so rare you get to make a molecular-biology related pun, you have to take every opportunity you get, even if they are that bad. I'm sorry.

It's not that rare - heck the Northen blot itself is a pun:

Southern Blot - developed by Ed Southern

Northern Blot - see what they did there...

Western Blot - yes, yes - very funny. Now get back to work.

Re:Next gen sequencers are fucking awesome (1)

protein folder (228881) | more than 5 years ago | (#25661217)

In Minas Tirith they endure the Eastern Blot, but they do not ask it for tidings...

Population and cancer (1, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653229)

This pains me to say - a couple of friends of the family have been diagnosed with cancer- one very dear to me and with limited time to live, the other a very decent man and doesn't know his chances yet.

I can't help but think that cancer is acting as a brake on the population explosion. If we cured cancer tomorrow these people who are dear to me wouldn't suffer, but we'd be even less sustainable and eventually we'd see wide spread poverty and famine. So the question becomes: If we do gather the knowledge we need to cure various forms of cancer so that those dear to us don't suffer, what are we going to do to balance things out and prevent the population from skyrocketing?

I don't have easy answers. I certainly don't like watching friends and family die, and would like to see a proper cure instead of various poisons in the form of radiation and drugs that take their toll on the person as much as the disease.

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25653313)

The easiest and most fair solution would be to do something like they do in China. One child per couple. Two parents, one child, population reduction of 2:1.

Due to our insane divorce rate, we'd have to have some kind of lifetime cap, otherwise people would have 1 child per marriage, but 4 marriages, defeating the intent.

Re:Population and cancer (4, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654549)

or just raise education levels. Japan has negative population growth, and it's not due to government intervention.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655077)

Or just make wars mandatory every 10 years. It's probably the most efficient way of controlling populations other than drunk driving.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#25662745)

The death tolls in modern wars are dropping rapidly so it wouldn't help. Even during WWII overall death rates dropped during combat, I remember on study done on Belgium where the government ordered livestock slaughtered prior to the invasion by Germany to avoid famine by freeing livestock fees for human consumption, the net effect was the death rates decreased during the Nazi conquest and occupation. I'm 5 days short of being an official Viet Nam era soldier and more of my classmates have died in car-train accidents than combat!

Re:Population and cancer (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25658179)

or just raise education levels. Japan has negative population growth, and it's not due to government intervention.

The cost of living in Japan is prohibitive to having children. Ever hear the one about laying down a $1000 bill in Tokyo, and the area under the bill is worth more than the bill? That was said in the late 80's. It's only gotten worse.

Why do you think the Japanese were so motivated to invade the US in WWII? Now China is anticipating the need for more land, and economically they've got the US over a barrel. Give that a few thinks.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

samgeribo (1309565) | more than 5 years ago | (#25659649)

The Japanese were not motivated to invade the US in WWII, you silly twat.

Do everyone a favor and read the WWII article on wikipedia before you reply.

Re:Population and cancer (2, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25661025)

as i understand it, they didn't want to invade the U.S., they didn't even really want to go to war with the U.S.

what they wanted was to be like the U.S., and all the other major western powers, and become an industrialized society. but Japan has no domestic oil supply, and since all the European powers were colonizing other lands and spreading their empires at the time, the Japanese wanted to do the same with Southeast Asia.

but the Western nations, particularly the U.S., didn't want Japan to become too powerful, so they prohibited Japan from invading Southeast Asia and basically cut off their oil supply. and since Oil is the lifeblood of any industrial society, Japan broke from the league of nations and later waged war with the U.S. it was really a matter of survival.

i mean, what do you think the U.S. would do if China suddenly cut off all of our foreign oil supplies in the Middle East? we actually have a domestic oil reserve, but we'd still likely declare go to war with China.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655983)

Yes but then you end up with a very rapidly aging population (like China does) which means a shrinking working base supporting a growing elderly base. Probably the most effective solution would be a yearly "birth" license, get one and you get to have a child don't get one and no kid for you. Perhaps cold and uncaring but also effective and allows you to carefully control your population growth.

Re:Population and cancer (4, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653375)

I can't help but think that cancer is acting as a brake on the population explosion.

Umm, no.

Cancer, in general, happens to people well past the age of reproduction. Which means it has little, if any, effect on population growth rates.

If there are diseases you'd like to keep around to prevent overpopulation, may I suggest lobbying to return Smallpox to the wild instead? Or just become a pro-AIDS activist, since the latter seems to be doing a good job of cutting into African population growth.

Seriously, some of you people scare me....

Re:Population and cancer (3, Insightful)

CriX (628429) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653513)

Seriously?

People that are no longer able to reproduce still consume resources and are definitely still considered part of the population. The point is that if you curb dieoff you are contributing to population growth.

Re:Population and cancer (5, Insightful)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653717)

But at most linearly, and not much - because of increase survival times, as opposed to the geometric effect of birth rates.

On that note, countries with long lives tend to need to support a fair amount of old people, which makes kids expensive, and keeps birth rates down.

Countries where birth rates are high and where life spans are short have a strong correlation. And they keep growing.

Compare, say, any European country or Japan or coastal US vs any sub-Saharan African country.

And as someone with a spouse with cancer, I have to say go fuck yourself.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653741)

So? what does that ahve to do with anything? That would mean that nature is 'aware' and the evolution can judge when that happens.
Add to that there is no real pressure in a lot of the world where people live long enough to get cancer for resources.

Traditionally, the lowering of the resource is balanced by a dying off of the elderly. Usually for the same reason there are fewer resources. Floods, droughts, etc..

Re:Population and cancer (5, Funny)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654073)

Okay, so... are you volunteering yourself as the first to be killed in the name of population control?

How about a random lottery? Every couple years, we chose one in a hundred thousand people, and kill them.

Or what about shutting down hospitals? If we get rid of all the doctors, I'm sure the reduction in population growth will make you very happy.

While we're at it, instead of incarcerating murderers, how about we reward them? After all, they're helping curb population growth.

Or you know what? Fuck you.

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25654175)

I purposely left out any opinion on the matter. It is a cold hard fact that when people do not die they are called 'alive' and therefore are contributing to the number of people considered to be the "population." I'm still not expressing any opinion on the matter... I mainly replied in response to the comment "Seriously, some of you people scare me..." which was annoying and unnecessary.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655649)

I mainly replied in response to the comment "Seriously, some of you people scare me..." which was annoying and unnecessary.

As opposed to your comment of "It is a cold hard fact that when people do not die they are called 'alive' and therefore are contributing to the number of people considered to be the 'population.'"? Did you take "Malthus' theory misinterpreted 101" last quarter or something?

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25656179)

Why not instead of killing 1 in 100,000 every few years, we take the one person and kill the other 99,999? That way we would only need to do this once in a millennium.

The way population exploded in the last century there are only 2 things that will happen. 1) We all end up living in ruble, starving. or 2) A madman will gain control of one of the superpowers, start a war that will kill 99% of the population. After long consideration, the offsprings of the survivors might even erect a statue in his honor.

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25656635)

Shutting down hospitals without discrimination might have the opposite effect. There wouldn't be any "production level" (well three nine's anyways) birth control available or the ability for moderately "safe" abortions so birth rates would probably sky rocket.

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25655059)

you can contribute in other way's then dna. I mean if you think you've got great dna have a bunch of kids. I think I have decent dna, (need glasses, have acid reflux, anti-social. Yet I think i'm a pretty smart chap.) but I will not be procreating willingly. I want a vasectomy ASPA. I might donate sperm before hand just to balance things out, but I do not want kids. I think i can still contribute to society in other ways.

Somehow I will be meaning full to the next generation.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655915)

Yet I think i'm a pretty smart chap.) but I will not be procreating willingly. I want a vasectomy ASPA. I might donate sperm before hand just to balance things out, but I do not want kids.

Glad to hear you won't be procreating.

Somehow I will be meaning full to the next generation.

Somehow, I doubt it. The best way that most of us can be meaningful to the next generation is to pass on our good genes, assuming we have any. If you decide to forego that part, you may as well never have lived.

Or do you expect to be one of the handful of names that will live forever?

Re:Population and cancer (1)

horatiocain (1199485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25656573)

The best way that most of us can be meaningful to the next generation is to pass on our good genes, assuming we have any. If you decide to forego that part, you may as well never have lived.

Or do you expect to be one of the handful of names that will live forever?

I don't think genetic material is in such short supply - I think we need to pass on our memes, culture, and technology. The future will consider itself lucky to have the advancements of the past, and certainly almost everyone is capable of contributing to that.

I never knew we had so many pro-cancer users (1)

TravisO (979545) | more than 5 years ago | (#25661549)

Think of the cancer cells, they have a right to live too!

Re:Population and cancer (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654169)

If there are diseases you'd like to keep around to prevent overpopulation, may I suggest lobbying to return Smallpox to the wild instead?

Wooooaahhhh there buddy. I didn't say I wanted to keep any disease around. Just that we should have a plan that means our population (and consumption) are sustainable so we don't have wide spread famine.

Cancer, in general, happens to people well past the age of reproduction.

What are you talking about? There are whole classes of cancers commonly referred to as "childhood cancer".

Looking at the stats here, nearly 10% of cancers occur under the age of 45. Let's call that the reproductive cutoff for women....now men can have children into their 60s, and about 45% roughly occur by age 65
http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2005/results_merged/topic_age_dist.pdf [cancer.gov]

Now the earlier the cancer occurs the more likely it is to have an impact on reproduction. So yes age has a bearing, but your view of cancer as a disease for old people is just wrong.

Seriously, some of you people scare me....

Perhaps you should READ what the other person wrote before letting hysteria take over? To take what I wrote and suggest that I want cancer to hang around is just paranoid. (I said I hated losing people dear to me). It isn't wrong to want to have a plan to prevent the population from becoming unsustainable. My interest isn't in restricting freedoms, handing control to the government, or having people die at my whim. I'd like to see LESS suffering. Painting me as a monster is INSULTING.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25656145)

To Quote your original:

BLOCKQUOTE>This pains me to say - a couple of friends of the family have been diagnosed with cancer- one very dear to me and with limited time to live, the other a very decent man and doesn't know his chances yet.

I can't help but think that cancer is acting as a brake on the population explosion. If we cured cancer tomorrow these people who are dear to me wouldn't suffer, but we'd be even less sustainable and eventually we'd see wide spread poverty and famine. So the question becomes: If we do gather the knowledge we need to cure various forms of cancer so that those dear to us don't suffer, what are we going to do to balance things out and prevent the population from skyrocketing?

I don't have easy answers. I certainly don't like watching friends and family die, and would like to see a proper cure instead of various poisons in the form of radiation and drugs that take their toll on the person as much as the disease.

And...

To take what I wrote and suggest that I want cancer to hang around is just paranoid.

The notion that you question the notion that a cure for cancer would be an unalloyed good sounds like you consider the possibility that keeping it around might be a good thing. Which is a despicable attitude.

Looking at the stats here, nearly 10% of cancers occur under the age of 45.

Which means that 90% of cancers occur over the age of 45. Which means that GENERALLY (you DID read that in my comment, and not let hysteria take over, didn't you?) cancer is a disease that occurs past the age of reproduction.

Note also that a man's ability to impregnate a woman has little to do with population growth rate - the limiter is the number of fertile wombs, not the number of swinging dicks.

I didn't say I wanted to keep any disease around. Just that we should have a plan that means our population (and consumption) are sustainable so we don't have wide spread famine.

You suggested it quite strongly.

Note, by the way, that widespread famine is a bugaboo of the ZPG loons. There hasn't been a widespread famine in 30 years that wasn't caused by government action. India and China export food, for god's sake! And the population now is higher by 50% than it was the last time we had a significant famine.

If you want to deal with population growth (God knows why, it seems to be taking care of itself nicely in the civilized parts of the world), I suggest you work hard to raise the standard of living in the third world. Not spend your time wondering if it's really a good idea to cure cancer.

Note, by the way, my own bias. I am currently being treated for my own cancer. I have a reasonable chance of living to see 60, looks like, but not a great chance of seeing 70.

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25655703)

Cancer, in general, happens to people well past the age of reproduction.

If you were to say that cancer typically doesn't happen prior to people being able to reproduce, you'd be more correct. As it is, your statement only applies to women.

My step-father is 70 years old and has 3-year-old twins. Had he gotten cancer (as might have been expected, considering he smoked 2 packs a day for 40 years), they never would have been born.

As it is, diseases like cancer are only a part of the natural population control mechanisms. The main one, which is particularly poorly adapted to our modern condition, is wars. On a small scale, wars are a perfect example of natural selection in action. When space or resources become scarce, the men from the warring tribes fight and the weaker of the men are killed. It's then up to the older survivors and older men to re-populate their tribe. Diseases like cancer play a part in that scenario in that they kill off weaker men that aren't killed in wars so that they don't reproduce at an older age.

That men over 50-60 do not currently tend to reproduce is a relatively modern societal change (evolutionarily speaking, of course).

And that's the fatal flaw in all the arguments about these kinds of things being natural ways of curbing over-population...that our society has negated effectiveness of these controls. Modern weapons make wars a particularly poor way of selecting out weaker members of the species. And advances in medicine reduce the effectiveness of diseases to that purpose.

Then again, it's somewhat of a coincidence that this story showed up just before the story about Michael Crichton's death. I remember reading at one point that he theorized that the evolutionary purpose of humans was to wipe out all life on this planet so that life can begin to evolve again. As he said it, we've evolved to the point where we're incapable of reaching an equilibrium point with our environment and will continue out-compete other species until we're the only ones left.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

theJML (911853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25656175)

I've known a few people that died because of cancer well before they were "outside the age of procreation". The youngest of which was 2.5 years old.

I'm not saying all of them that die are young, but certainly not all that die are old. If we say that 25% of people over 60 die because of cancer, we are to say that 25% of people over 60 will now live much longer due to a lack of it.

I'd also have to say that you may be correct for a single generation, but let's say your example of old people with cancer is true. Let's say that if we solve cancer, those people will live another 15-20 years until something else takes them. Depending on where they are and what their up-bringing is, that may be an entire extra generation on the planet at once (they had kids at 18, their kids had kids at 18, etc... at 72, that's 4 instead of the 3 if they had died sooner. They're great-great-grandparents. 18 is not young in some parts either). Generations overlap and as such extra people will be requiring sustenance, transportation, medical care, etc...

While I'm not sure that the grand parent really things we should all volunteer to die at a certain age, I think it's something to be thought about. Every action does have a reaction after all.

Re:Population and cancer (3, Insightful)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653383)

It seems to me that any number of debilitating and lethal diseases can be seen this way and that population control should be proactive. If we can cure cancer, it would seem that population control through education would be a far better way to ensure population control without the horrible pain and suffering that the afflicted and their loved ones endure.

I realize that birth control education/legislation/etc. brings up an entirely new conversation (one I'm not trying to start here) but I'd pretty much support anything that would have kept friends and family from dying a slow, painful death.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654217)

It seems to me that any number of debilitating and lethal diseases can be seen this way and that population control should be proactive

Agreed.

I'd pretty much support anything that would have kept friends and family from dying a slow, painful death.

I too would like to prevent this. However note that older people dying of cancer are more likely to suffer a slow, painful death anyway if we prolong their life - other parts of the body give out. (No I'm not saying that means we shouldn't try to cure diseases) Also note that a death resulting from famine due to overpopulation wouldn't be the least painful you could have either.

Don't worry (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653405)

If they manage to cure cancer, it will likely be too expensive for the average person, and any insurance you can afford won't cover it. Don't think of it a capitalism gone wrong, think of it as medical extortion. That way, we won't have to worry about keeping the elite alive, and the poor can die of "natural causes" just like they always have.

Sorry, that was a poor attempt at humor. Serously, despite wide and inexpensive availability of contraception, individual humans have very little control or foresight when it comes to controlling the number of offspring they have. We have advanced to the point (well beyond the point, actually) where having a large family is necessary or desirable. If each couple had only one child, on average, we could fix a lot of problems in just a few generations. It would generate other problems, but on balance it would provide a much more sustainable population.

As for the lack of suffering at life's end...well, no matter how good our medical care gets, we will still die. And for most of us that will mean some sort of painful end as one critical part of us fails before the others do. With a few exceptions, that's going to mean suffering at the end of life. *shrug*

Re:Don't worry (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653689)

"If they manage to cure cancer, it will likely be too expensive for the average person, and any insurance you can afford won't cover it"

Complete paranoia BS that flys in the face of history.

If they cure cancer, it is far more likely to get cheaper, cheaper then treatment and benefits.
It would be in the insurance companies best interest to use it, even if it cost a million dollars.

"despite wide and inexpensive availability of contraception, individual humans have very little control or foresight when it comes to controlling the number of offspring they have."

Actually, in countries where that is widely and cheaply available, births go down.
The other factor being religious.

Of course, you seem to be implying there is overcrowding;which is not true.

"Is it just my observation, or are there way too many stupid people in the world?"

well, when almost every one else seems stupid, maybe it's you~

Re:Don't worry (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654611)

On the contrary, it's not overcrowding (though that is the case in some areas), it's over use. I'm no tree-hugging hippie, but it seems that we are utilizing resources at a pretty unsustainable rate, and our population is mostly unchecked so it's just going to get worse. Some governments (Germany and Russia come to mind) are actively encouraging an expanding birth rate to support their social programs which are essentially pyramid schemes. That's counterproductive in the long run.

Most of our "modern" society relies on a large, ever growing younger population to support the status quo. To prosper, long term, I think we need to scale back and learn to live within our planetary means. It won't get dire for a long time, it will just get slowly worse and worse. I'm comfortable enough to worry less about my day to day problems and consider the bigger picture. There are things we can't control and there are things we can. Population growth is one of those things we could, if people would think of others before themselves.

There _are_ way to many stupid people in the world; I should add selfish and inconsiderate as well. Depending on where you are in the mix, I might be in the stupid category by your standards. I've pretty much resigned myself to what exists, 'cause the momentum would require far more personal effort than I can give. *shrug*

Re:Don't worry (2, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654521)

Serously, despite wide and inexpensive availability of contraception, individual humans have very little control or foresight when it comes to controlling the number of offspring they have.

To the contrary. As people get wealthier, birth rate drops significantly. This is known as the "demographic transition [wikipedia.org] ". Birth rate also decreases directly with education level, and with access to birth control techniques. (That latter would be, you'd think, duh no surprise, but nevertheless it was a surprise to sociologists).

So if you want to control population, make everybody rich, educated, and have access to birth control.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25656557)

If they manage to cure cancer, it will likely be too expensive for the average person.

Eventually we'll reach the point where cancer is a reliably-treatable illness, and when we get to that point, the treatment will be within the price range where average people can afford it.

However they'll never actually cure the disease...they'll only find a way for people to live with it. Big pharma doesn't research cures anymore, only treatments. That's the way they can make it affordable to everyone...make sure that it's not just a one time payment.

Re:Population and cancer (2, Informative)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653413)

Worldwide, cancer barely makes in to the to 10 causes of death. And the one type of cancer that does make it is caused primarily by smoking.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653499)

Eh? Cancer is a disease of the elderly who are about 10 times more likely to get cancer [usc.edu] than younger people. Cancer has very little impact on rates of reproduction and so it's obvious that it's not any kind of serious brake on population growth. Finding more successful treatments for cancer will have almost no impact on population growth.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

Klootzak (824076) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653507)

If we do gather the knowledge we need to cure various forms of cancer so that those dear to us don't suffer, what are we going to do to balance things out and prevent the population from skyrocketing?

You're making two (possibly incorrect) assumptions here - That someone hasn't already got the knowledge, and that people haven't already posed the very question you ask and come to the conclusion that there should be no 100% effective cancer cure developed... at least until the species is sufficiently sustainable within its immediately available ecosystem to grow the population even faster than it currently does.

Plus, Pharmacutical companies don't actually like CURING things, there's no profit in a take-one-fixed methodology, far better to PROLONG life so the patient has to keep buying your drugs.

Disclaimer (so I don't get a billion messages from conspiracy-theorist geeks):
This post is all conjecture, I cannot cure cancer nor do I belong to a secret government organization that already has the cure.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

composer777 (175489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653581)

I would be more worried about "overpopulation" if the entire world was full of greedy bastards. But fortunately, the "savages" figure out ways to live on 1% of the oil while we "civilized" Americans continue to plunder and use 25% of the worlds oil.

Capitalism and exponential market growth are 100x as big of a cancer on this planet as over-population will ever be. The sad thing is, those who consume the least, and contribute the most, are the least likely to get this treatment (at least at first), while some of the biggest parasites the world has ever seen will likely be first in line.

Re:Population and cancer (2, Insightful)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654423)

I'm interested in your market with exponential growth. I'd like to invest as it seems to give much higher returns than the NYSE, NASDAQ, FTSE, DAX, etc.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

composer777 (175489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25662703)

Consider that GDP is 1.04% brwoth, that means the economy will need to be 50x as large in 100 years to sustain growth. That far outpaces population growth which also follows an exponential growth curve. One example of even greater exponential growth (which isn't relatively stable like GDP) is our recent housing bubble.

Or, you can go to finance.google.com and plot out the market growth over the past 30 years. In a micro economic sense, markets grow exponentially, then crash, rebuild, find new areas of expansion, and grow exponentially again. In a macro-economic sense, it's a slow, relatively steady, 1.04% growth curve, until a significant portion of the world's resources are consumed.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653603)

"I can't help but think that cancer is acting as a brake on the population explosion."

Your grasping for a patterns and reason where ther is none.

There are many rason why thi si not true, but I'll just point out 1:
It usually happens to people who ahve had a chance to reporduce.

k, on more:
Evolution isn't a goal, nor does it have a mind or agenda. It isn'a a ladder or a path.
There is no Goal, no forward or backward as people tend to think of them.

Yes, it is terribly sad, I wish you and your friends the best, but don't let your grief cause you to focus on something that isn't there.

The next step from there is Homeopathic 'medicine', witch doctors, and faith healers.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653605)

Then we get a new disease to replace it. e.g. bird flu or something like that. I'm hoping that by the time we start having real trouble with the population explosion, we'll have terraformed Mars (and maybe a few of the less inhabitable deserts).

Re:Population and cancer (1)

uncqual (836337) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655621)

The cost in Earth based resources to ship the excess population to Mars will likely exceed the resources required to simply keep those people on Earth for the rest of their lives.

Shipping people off won't impact the ability of the remaining people to spawn - and if any net resources are freed up by shipping people to Mars, those remaining on Earth will simply increase their spawning rate until, again, Earth suffers from overpopulation. If this wasn't the case, the Earth's population would have frozen before it was necessary to send the first million immigrants to Mars due to Earth being overpopulated

Seems there may be good reasons to build a human civilization on Mars (such as protecting the human species from extinction due to an event local to the Earth - such as an asteroid impact), but dealing with overpopulation doesn't seem to be one of them.

Re:Population and cancer (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653623)

The exact opposite holds true and I really wish people would first look at the data before spouting out something. Developed nations with long life expectancies have a lower population growth rate than other nations. In fact the world's population growth rate is going down as more nations become developed. It's expected that the world's population will reach an equilibrium of 12 billion or so in under 40 years.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

snappyjack (1147601) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653639)

I believe cancer may be the only 'natural' way to die. If we are lucky and healthy and live to be very old, the amount of times our cells divide goes up accordingly. Every time they do divide, there is a small chance for mutation, and a small chance of that mutation to be deleterious to our health. Apparently, genetics and lifestyle effect how often and to what extent these mutations occur. This is why I don't think cancer will ever be 'cured'; it's a disease we can only delay.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655293)

What about telomere shortening? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telomere [wikipedia.org]

Basically (my total layman interpretation, go read the wikipedia article and others) the cell division is limited by the shortening telomere. Usually that causes cell death, but sometimes cancer. So even after the cancer has been cured, there's still the cell division limitation, until we can get past that.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653669)

what are we going to do to balance things out and prevent the population from skyrocketing?

I'd imagine as that concern becomes closer to reality, government(s) would have have to start imposing limits on the number of offspring a person is allowed to have (much like how China does in an attempt to prevent overpopulation). I realize this imposes on our freedom to reproduce, but given the alternative I'd say it's by far the lesser of two evils.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653793)

the government would not have to forcibly do that.
Just educate kids about birth control, and how having kids impacts there lives.
Add to that the risk of catching a disease that can kill you.

Let them learn about condoms, and get condoms.

All evidence shows that an informed educated society has less children, no forcing reproductive laws required.

of curse this will curb naturally when food becomes scarce.

are you serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25653699)

My mother died of cancer so this is a topic close to home.

I don't know what FSM you believe in but who or what would exactly put cancer into play to act as a population limiter?

I don't see how a balance can be created by randomly affecting people with cancer (or any other affliction).

Cancer may act as a brake, but only in a "people die when they get old" way.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653751)

I don't think that sustainability is the problem that it's made out to be. We'll work out the details over time. We always have.

It's a disservice to the world if a truly good person does not reproduce.

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25654141)

The question is, how much time do we have?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/jan/22/water.china (guardian.co.uk)

Re:Population and cancer (2, Interesting)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653813)

Have a read through the mprize and SENS pages [mfoundation.org] , projects geared at tackling not only cancer but ageing in general.

Aubrey De Grey addressed this question a while back - what if people stopped dying from aging altogether? Will population explode? Will we immediately cause a bigger problem than we've solved?

Following his reasoning (plus real-world numbers) the answer is no. Personally, I agree with him.

Even in the most extreme of cases, were everyone to just stop dying of age-related causes altogether (including cancer, heart-disease etc) unless a truck hits them, population would not explode overnight. It would take a long time (read: hundreds of years) to become anywhere as apocalyptic as some would have you believe, far more than enough time for us to adapt and apply solutions to (humans have proven an uncanny ability to adapt social structures to evolving environments over the past centuries, having brains is a dang good thing at times) as well as be in turn mitigated by the very same fact that caused it, much like people going from making 15 kids to having three after realizing that all three (rather than one in five) will survive to adulthood if only they washed their hands.
That's to say our current population growth estimates take the existing rate as a given (200 years ago, 15 kids per family per generation was a given), but this very change is likely to change, and put predictions using these numbers far off the mark.

If people will have extended (reproduction-capable) lifetimes, the rate at which they procreate may quite possibly go down as less pressure exists to adhere to the ticking biological clock (aka "we'll have kids later"), much like many people are already preferring to do so towards their 30's rather when they're 16.

And we'd be replacing a BIG problem (causing a LOT of suffering) with a smaller one that can be tackled by education, regulation and generally more humane means than frality and losing one's mental capacity, life or loved ones.

Cancer is NOT a legitimate over-population solution. Neither are genocide, war, smallpox, AIDS or even old age. Much like amputation is not a solution for a muscle cramp.

The idea of promoting it as such is ludicrous.

They should all be cured.
Overpopulation will be addressed in due time, using far better means that we ALREADY HAVE at our disposal.

Last, I heartily encourage you to read this [nickbostrom.com] for some perspective on the matter.

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25654219)

The population is already skyrocketing. We're now at a rate of growth that will add a billion people in a decade. A Decade!

Re:Population and cancer (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654261)


I can't help but think that cancer is acting as a brake on the population explosion.

Not in a significant way. The truth is that the birth rate for most (all?) industrial nations is near or under replacement. The U.S. is only growing because of immigration. Curing cancer would have an almost nill effect on the population.

and eventually we'd see wide spread poverty and famine.

Thomas Malthus [wikipedia.org] had a similar fear. His theory was essentially that as resources expanded, the population also grew to consume all the extra resources. Malthus's fears didn't turn out to be real, as women will have less children as a country industrializes.

From an economic standpoint (which is what you're talking about) curing cancer would be an enormous boon. How much productivity is lost every year because people die of cancer? Quite a lot I'd guess.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

Alsn (911813) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655069)

Most people who die from cancer are well past their retirement age. Just saying...

Re:Population and cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25654273)

I don't have easy answers. I certainly don't like watching friends and family die, and would like to see a proper cure instead of various poisons in the form of radiation and drugs that take their toll on the person as much as the disease.

an excellent first step is to incorporate an anti-inflammatory diet similar to the one recommended by Harvard Medical Center's Joslin Diabetes Research Center:

http://www.joslin.org/1083_2162.asp [joslin.org]

http://professionaled.joslin.org/Files/Nutrition_Guideline_Graded.pdf [joslin.org]

you can consider this diet to be an advanced mediterranean diet similar to the one that showed an 83% reduction in diabetes (results several times better than any drug or combination thereof).

genes are very powerful, but diet can be used to change their expression. think of it as minimizing your chance of a chronic disease or, if your genes still dictate that you'll get a chronic disease, think of it as a delayer and minimizer.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654541)

Overpopulation is a myth. The problem is with resource allocation. Don't take my word for it, do your own research before you go about propagating such a dangerous myth. This has been discussed on slashdot [slashdot.org] before.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

Singularitarian2048 (1068276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654567)

If nothing else, we can make a rule that if you want to live forever, then you can't have children.

Of course, in the future we will live in virtual worlds, where space is unlimited.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

uncqual (836337) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655665)

Of course, in the future we will live in virtual worlds, where space is unlimited.

But, imagine how quickly virtual people can spawn new virtual people - Moore's law would be very scary here as the rate of spawning would double every 18 months or so. Where will we put all the bits needed to uniquely define each virtual human - there are only a finite number of atoms conveniently close to us!

Re:Population and cancer (1)

steelcaress (1389111) | more than 5 years ago | (#25657917)

If we do gather the knowledge we need to cure various forms of cancer so that those dear to us don't suffer, what are we going to do to balance things out and prevent the population from skyrocketing?

Well, problem is, we probably will have a skyrocketing population. What you'd have to do in order to counterbalance things is:

(A) Replace the free market economy system with something workable. Say, you get decent food, decent clothing, and decent shelter as a basic human right. You want more, you work for it, and upgrade. That's how I see the Star Trek universe working, which evolved beyond the need for money. (TNG: The Neutral Zone)

(B) Offworld colonies. You'd have to find a way to get people offworld, at least in space stations or something.

(C) Synthetic food. We'd have to find a way to make fake food with all the nutrients. What would be cool (though I have no idea how sound this is) is to reassemble the atoms and molecules in things like garbage into something consumable and nutritious.

Tech's come a long way, but it needs to go further before we start removing the population caps.

Re:Population and cancer (1)

johndmartiniii (1213700) | more than 5 years ago | (#25658311)

Did anyone else see Logan's Run?

what a terrible thing to say (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25662131)

Cancers usually horrible - painful, disfiguring, debilitating. There are more peaceful ways to die in old age. besides eliminating cancer does not add too many years to the average lifespan - about six. Antibiotics and hygene nearly doubled lifespan.

That's nice but... (4, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653291)

There's always a "but." They sequenced an FAB classification M1 AML. That's nice, but these things tend to have a heterogenous genetic makeup. It'd be nice if they sequenced more of those things and compared them as well.

Mutation comparisons for different samples here .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25654227)

You can view mutations for various cancers here : Cancer Genome Workbench [nih.gov] or Catologue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer [sanger.ac.uk] .

Re:That's nice but... (4, Interesting)

samgeribo (1309565) | more than 5 years ago | (#25659265)

I'm also concerned that these might be mutations in the hematopoietic stem cell that don't "drive" the disease. The lengthy points at the end debunking this possibility aren't convincing to me. Here are the 1st two (FTA):

1) "genetic instability does not seem to be a general feature of AML genomes."

Are they on crack? Perhaps I don't fully understand the context of this statement; genetic instability and evolution are seen in most cases of AML.

2) "Alternatively, all may have occurred simultaneously in the same leukaemia-initiating cell, but only a subset of the mutations (or an as-yet undetected mutation) is truly important for pathogenesis (that is, disease 'drivers' versus passengers). Although we suggest that the latter hypothesis is very unlikely on the basis of our current understanding of tumour progression"

Simultaneously occurring? Again, this flies in the face of common knowledge. The theory is the hematopoietic stem cell is extremely long lived and only divides once a year and so has plenty of time to accumulate genetic mutations. This explains both the average relapse time of one year and also the genetic homogeneity of the leukemic clone. Thus many of their new found eight mutations may be accidental and not disease causing.

Does anyone have any new light to shed on this? I am not a doctor and would benefit from some guidance on this issue.

Re:That's nice but... (2, Informative)

Scubaraf (1146565) | more than 5 years ago | (#25659719)

Mod this up - this is the *KEY* argument that needs to be made in light of this work. First - 8 of the unexpected mutations could not be found in leukemia cells from 187 other patients with AML. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7706487.stm [bbc.co.uk]

This strongly suggests that these are "passenger" mutations that were acquired during the life of the hematopoietic stem cell that later underwent clonal expansion.

Many of the patients remaining normal stem cells probably carry a few insignificant mutations here or there, but each of these is represent at such low frequency, that they cannot be detected in the absence of clonal expansion.

Second - there is no external or functional validation. Take these genes, mutate them, and put them into in vitro or mouse models of leukemia to see if they have any effect. Heck, just start by proving that these mutations occur at a higher frequency in coding regions than in non-coding regions of the genome. Or even show that all of these genes are actually expressed in leukemic cells.

Finally - mutations are not the only way to disrupt gene expression. Genes can be methylated, amplified, deleted, and post-transcriptionally down regulated (by miRNA for example). The genetic disaster that caused AML in this patients may have had more to do with these types of events (as is the case with a related, pre-leukemic conditon known as MDS).

So this is fascinating use of amazing technology, but also a first pass at analyzing a very complex data set. Many more cancer genomes will come in short order and we'll get a better sense of what this means.

first genuinely elected president since 2000 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25653315)

God's speed to you sir.

First Female Genome Sequenced (2, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653427)

Really?
Is that significant?
If so, why? If not, why hadn't it been done before? (Other than the whole "zomg this job is taking forever" thing)

Re:First Female Genome Sequenced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25654851)

Whole genome studies are super expensive and zomg-this-job-is-taking-forever long. Venter's was the first whole male genome published, and now just months later, a whole female genome.

costs decreased by 6000x for this study (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25662377)

The first genome cost $3 billion. This one did two genomes for $500K apiece. Future costs are expected to drop another thousand in a decade. They may need to do a thousand of these kind of sequencings to capture the range of the major cancers.

Plus once you know the range of genomic differences for each kind of cancer, you could develop a set of cheaper makers. Each cancer is expected to consist of a couple dozen mutations, maybe ten or so for each specific instance.

Anybody else read that as HOLE cancer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25653435)

Yikes.

Re:Anybody else read that as HOLE cancer? (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25656863)

Know eye deed knot.

Know eye deed knot.. (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25657179)

Ice wear.

Don't you have a genome center to run? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25653441)

Quit screwing around on slashdot and get back to work, Dooling. :)

Shenanigans (1)

pnotequalsnp (1077279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653711)

I call shenanigans, since at least 7% of the genome is repetitive elements, centromeres, cnvs etc. etc. Also, remember that they use a reference genome, which itself is not complete. What happens if the cancer/person has a sequence not found in the reference genome. I know, it is not reported. It is more informative to say 90% of the tumor was sequenced. Probably the last 10% was the important part anyways (cnvs and the number of repeats are very important), so this is just anther "first post" in Science and Nature. Can they start publishing proper papers rather than "hot" papers?

Re:Shenanigans (1)

guycouch (763243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654543)

Fine, but you can't do the research if you don't have the genome. The title of the article wasn't "Cancer Genome Sequence, Cure Eminent."

Re:Shenanigans (1)

pnotequalsnp (1077279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654591)

Fine, but you can't do the research if you don't have the genome. The title of the article wasn't "Cancer Genome Sequence, Cure Eminent."

I am saying if you claim to that you have the genome, you should probably have the genome. They don't. I said nothing about cures for cancer. Again my point stands, since they only have the differences between the tumor genome and a "reference genome" (same for the normal genome of that person). They then compare the two to see the differences in the differences. The have a 10% data missing problem.

Two genomes from the same person (5, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653719)

The Science News article says that they sequenced both a cancer cell and a non-cancer cell from this woman. So we can specifically say "these are the bases that are different" and from there (with luck) to "this is the mutation that happened".

That should prove quite illuminating.

Re:Two genomes from the same person (1)

pnotequalsnp (1077279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654605)

It should be "It was hard to sequence the whole thing, so we quit after 90%"

Re:Two genomes from the same person (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 5 years ago | (#25655247)

Maybe they could do the same thing that EA suggests - just keep trying random data at the end until it all works.

Re:Two genomes from the same person (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654661)

It should. The next step, I think, would be to sequence more people with AML M1 because the genetics heterogeneous. Then we can compare genes to normal controls and within the specific types to find the genes in common, if any, and maybe direct treatments against those genes/gene products.

This is perfect! (3, Funny)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653731)

All the lab has to do now is patent the gene sequence and then sue mother nature for everything she's worth every time someone expresses this gene!

There's your above the fold headline: Lawyers cure cancer!

Well now (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 5 years ago | (#25653821)

Ok, I'm going to lose major Karma for this.... but what the hell..

This is not only the first cancer genome published, it is the first female genome as well.

Wait, wait, wait.... you mean they're different?

Re:Well now (1)

Khemisty (1246418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25654557)

I was thinking the exact same thing. I didn't realize that men and women have different genomes. According to this page [wellcome.ac.uk]

"Surprisingly, a male genome is not the same as a female genome â" and it even appears that genomes may be engaged in a genetic 'tug of war' within a developing embryo."

It continues saying

"An example is the insulin-like growth factor system, which has a strong influence on the size of a baby. The logic is that the paternal genome works to maximise the growth of the offspring, to give it the best chance of survival when it is born. The maternal genome, though, protects the mother, so she can go through further pregnancies. Male and female genomes may be constantly battling with one another, driven by evolutionary pressures to ensure that their genes survive and spread."

Additionally, I found this blog post [blogspot.com] and I quote

"Willard and Carrel's work has focused largely on x chromosome inactivation, and the way in which this expresses itself in between-and-within sex phenotypes. Hotz quotes Willard: "In essence, there is not one human genome, but two: male and female."
As discussed in a previous post, Steven Pinker (2005) theorizes that there is greater variation in ability in males; basically, that males are the guinea pigs for evolutionary change. This is part of Pinker's explanation of why men are overrepresented at the highest levels of achievement. Critics such as Chabris and Glickman (2006) have attempted to disprove this using examples such as chess achievement, but Hotz suggests that Willard and Carrel's research may have found genetic evidence to the contrary: "Females can differ from each other almost as much as they do from males in the way many genes at the heart of sexual identity behave."

One last article [independent.co.uk] , I promise :) But I find this stuff pretty interesting as I never realized there was a difference:

"Analysis of the "X" chromosome - the female sex chromosome - has revealed that women are genetically more complicated than men. The findings reveal that men have taken a genetic battering that has dwindled the size of their own "Y" chromosome.
The battle of the sexes has its roots in a 300-million-year struggle between the X and the Y chromosomes which have vied with each other for influence over successive generations of males and females. Scientists showed yesterday that the X chromosome has retained its physical integrity while the Y of men has dwindled in size and power to become a shadow of its former self."

Now I am definitely oversimplifying this, but it seems the X and Y chromosome play a pretty big part in the difference. Odd how I never put 2 and 2 together. But if this has been known for so long, why hasn't anyone taken the time to map out a female genome before? Breast cancer is a pretty obvious female specific disease, so it strikes me odd that if the human genome has been mapped out since 2003 that no one has done this before.

cuz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25654897)

Males and Females share 23 chromosomes: 2 copies of 1-22 and 1 copy of X. Males have a Y instead of the second X.

The only difference in the GENOME is the Y (the two copies for 1-22 are different, except for maybe inbred lab mice).

The studies you cite do NOT point out different genomes.

There is, no doubt, differential gene expression between average, healthy males and females. That does not mean their genomes are different (except for the Y chromsome).

Re:cuz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25655491)

Just to add to that...

...and 1 copy of X. Males have a Y instead of the second X.

The second X chromosome is inactivated in women so, to a first approximation, both men and women effectively have one copy of the X chromosome.

The only difference in the GENOME is the Y ...

It's worth pointing out that there are only 78 known genes on the Y chromosome and, because some genes are duplicates, they only code for about 25 different proteins. Further, about half of the proteins are only expressed in the testes.

The key protein on the Y chromosome is "SRY" (Sex-determining Region of Y) that regulates the expression of other genes (that is, it controls how much of certain other genes are made into protein).

The basic difference between men and women is not the genes or genome but which genes are expressed (made into proteins).

Re:Well now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25655811)

That's the biggest whoosh I've seen in a while. Read this again more carefully:

This is not only the first cancer genome published, it is the first female genome as well.

Notice it says nothing about male genomes. Now read the post you replied to. Get it? I know, it's not funny anymore.

Cancer Gnome (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25654403)

I'm pretty sleepy but at first glance I thought the first whole Cancer Gnome sounded pretty scary!

analyzed mutations in protein sequences ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25655071)

Cis-regulatory regions are emerging as important components of gene regulation.

They need to look at what was once called "junk DNA", too.

Fp G04t!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25656439)

...it is the first female genome as well (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 5 years ago | (#25657645)

So, is she hot?

Re:...it is the first female genome as well (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25660189)

So, is she hot?

well they published her genome, so you can make your own and find out.
The source code is a little buggy though.

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