An ambitious plan for curing cancer in a businesslike way is in the works

From The Economist:

ScreenHunter_05 Jan. 02 00.00Dr DePinho is the new president of the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas. (He took over in September, having previously headed the Belfer Institute, part of Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.) Mindful of his adopted city’s most famous scientific role, as home to Mission Control for the Apollo project, he says his own mission is akin to a moon shot. He aims to cure not one but five varieties of cancer. What he has not yet decided is: which five?

That it is possible to talk of curing even one sort of cancer is largely thanks to an outfit called the International Cancer Genome Consortium. Researchers belonging to this group, which involves 39 projects in four continents, are using high-throughput DNA-sequencing to examine 50 sorts of tumour. They are comparing the mutations in many examples of each type, to find which are common to a type (and thus, presumably, causative) and which are mere accidents. (The DNA-repair apparatus in malignant cells often goes wrong, so such accidents are common.)

The consortium’s work is progressing fast, and preliminary results for many tumours are already in. But such knowledge is useless unless it can be translated into treatment. That is where Dr DePinho comes in—for his career has taken him into the boardroom as well as the clinic.

More here.