It only takes 15 cigarettes to harm your genes, a study reveals. Researchers believe that this new findings will eventually lead to the development of new drugs that target these changes in the gene that triggers cancer.
According to the study, a single genetic mutation happens on the average of every 15 cigarettes that a regular lung cancer patient smokes. The research has also identified all the genetic mutations acquired by a cancer patient during his lifetime.
The researchers have conducted a complete genetic examination of the genomes of the cancer patients, and are optimistic that the information will shed light to the necessary understanding of cancer and open the possibility for new treatments and medications, by looking into the mutations that transform healthy cells into dreaded cancer cells.
The study examined a lung-cancer patient who suffered from more than 23,000 lung cell genetic mutations caused by the continuous exposure to the harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke.
They also studied a patient suffering from malignant melanoma, the most feared form of skin cancer, who had around 30,000 genetic mutations caused by the exposure to sunlight.
The researchers believe that these new knowledge about the genetics of cancer will ultimately lead to the development of new drugs and specialized treatments that prevents specific changes in the genes that could trigger the development of cancer, as well as the new methods for diagnosing secondary cancers that have eluded treatment.
According to Dr. Peter Campbell, lead researcher of the Cancer Genome Project, the study provides a complete map of the mutations of cancer cells.
The profile of the genetic mutations that were observed in the lung cancer patient suggests that majority of the 23,000 mutation was caused by the mixture of chemical found in tobacco smoke. Base on the average estimates, a single mutation occurs in the genome for every fifteen (15) cigarettes, according to Dr. Campbell.
The study conducted the whole genome test of the lung cancer patient sixty (60) times to ensure that every single mutation was recorded. The researchers then matched the genome sequence with the sample of the healthy cell collected from the same cancer patient.
The same procedure was conducted on the sample cells obtained from the patient suffering from skin cancer which helped the researchers establish the connection between the exposure to ultraviolet light and the changes in the malignant skin cells, according to Prof. Mike Stratton of Sanger Institute.
According to the researchers, with the two genome sequences, they are able to search and look deeper into the history of each tumor, revealing with amazing clarity the tracks of these mutagens on the DNA that had occurred several years before the cancer became obvious.