Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A team of researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University has developed a new technique that allows scientists to reliably track genetic errors in individual cancer cells, and find out how these might lead to uncontrollable growth.

Microscopic glioblastoma stem cells organised in tumor © Shutterstock

Despite recognising that cancer cell diversity underlies treatment resistance and recurrence of cancer, previous attempts to track errors in individual cancer cells were very inaccurate, or could only track a few cells at a time. This is the first time that researchers have been able to reliably track DNA errors, or ‘mutations’ in thousands of individual cancer cells, while also measuring how these mutations lead to disruption to how DNA is read within individual cancer cells in a tumour.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Cell, describes how this new technique, TARGET-seq, can not only detect mutations within individual cancer cells from patients, but also work out the full list of gene products in individual cancer cells (the transcriptome). Tracking these genetic errors, and their consequences, is important, because despite the latest medical advances, completely getting rid of cancer cells is sometimes extremely difficult. As there are many different kinds of cancer cells in a tumour, they can all behave differently and have different kinds of resistant to treatment. Understanding the genetics of individual cancer cells in such detail will help clinicians personalise cancer treatments for each patient.

Read more (University of Oxford website)

Similar stories

Young lives under pressure as global crises hits mental health and well-being – report

The well-being and mental health of young people in low - and middle - income countries have been dramatically affected by the series of crises hitting the world. As the international community continues to struggle with the impact of COVID-19, conflict and climate change, the latest report from the Young Lives project shows a long-running upward trend in young people’s well-being has been sharply reversed alongside widespread anxiety and depression. Young people are less confident about their futures for the first time in the 20-year study.

Bacterial infections linked to one in eight global deaths, according to GRAM study

Data showing 7.7 million deaths from 33 bacterial infections can guide measures to strengthen health systems, particularly in low-income settings

New tool aims to make bowel cancer treatments more effective

The Leedham Lab in Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) has been awarded over £2M from Cancer Research UK to develop a new tool that could help guide how bowel cancer patients are treated in the future.

Doug Higgs awarded the 2023 Genetics Society Medal

The award recognises Radcliffe Department of Medicine's Professor Higgs major contribution to our understanding of how mammalian genes are switched on and off, and using haematopoiesis as a model to understand how genes function.

First evidence drug resistant bacteria can travel from gut to lung, increasing infection risks

A new Oxford University study released during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week has significant findings on how antimicrobial resistance (AMR) arises and persists. The results, published today in Nature Communications, provide the first direct evidence of AMR bacteria migrating from a patient’s gut microbiome to the lungs, increasing the risk of deadly infections.