Scientists who conduct basic research on the causes of cancer focus on the fundamental genetic mutations that underlie cancer. One goal seeks to identify all of the mutations present in a patientís tumor, enabling better prediction of the tumorís future behavior.
Using a Silicon Graphics workstation and goggles designed to view three-dimensional images, a scientist examines images of enzymes used in the treatment of cancer. The 3-D technology creates the illusion for the scientist of being inside the images, enabling him to better observe the enzymes.
Developing technologies use a tiny glass chip the size of a computer chip to compare DNA in tumor cells to DNA in healthy cells. This new diagnostic tool will someday help physicians to tailor the treatment of individual patients according to their tumorsí genetic makeup.
Since cancer is uncontrolled cell division, research into the genetic mechanisms that control normal cell division also holds promise. A better understanding of the normal function of a mutated gene may provide better insight into what goes wrong in tumor cells. This may lead to better treatments designed to combat specifically the effects of the mutation.