“The bottom line is that we need new ways to analyze the massive amounts of cancer genome data, and this [method] is one that looks like it can lead to exciting and unexpected discoveries, and maybe treatments someday,” said Dr. Bruce Clurman, one of the lead researchers on the work.
The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Clurman, executive vice president and deputy director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and holder of the Hutch's Rosput Reynolds Endowed Chair, described the study and its implications in the following interview, which has been edited for brevity and clarity. Editor's notes are in italic.
You were looking at a molecule called Fbw7. What’s the problem you were trying to solve?
This is a protein that degrades a lot of other proteins that drive cancer. It’s called a tumor suppressor. One of the problems in studying it is the number of pathways it controls. It’s so complicated that it’s very hard to go through the pathways systematically one by one and try to understand what the biologic consequences of these mutations are in cancer, and even harder to go about therapeutically targeting them.