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July 15, 2009

One Step Forward Toward Identification of the Genetic Signature of Glioblastomas

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Birmingham (Dr Pasche); and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, Alabama (Mr Myers). Dr Pasche is also Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2009;302(3):325-326. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1023

Cancer is a disease of the genome at the level of gene expression, epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation, and DNA alterations. For more than 3 decades, many lines of research have shown that acquisition of genetic changes is a major and required step in the development of most cancers. First, ionizing radiation and chemicals that damage DNA and cause mutations also cause cancer.1 Second, genomic alterations such as translocations that result in the production of a specific gene fusion product are associated with some types of cancer. Such is the case for the translocations between chromosomes 9 and 22 in chronic myeloid leukemia and the translocation between chromosomes 15 and 17 in acute promyelocytic leukemia.2 Third, the introduction of genomic DNA from human cancer cells into normal cells can render the normal cells cancerous.3