Every cell in your body carries your DNA – with the exception of red blood cells, which don’t have the space. Your body cells have two copies of most genes – one from your mother and one from your father. However, this isn’t always true for cancers. Studies done on colorectal cancer have found that, while the DNA code mostly remains the same within a tumour, some cells have multiple copies of it. The number of copies can vary not only between different tumours in a patient, but also within the same tumour. The image shows a 3D model of a tumour, with different colours showing two areas where different sets of genes have been copied. Some of these genes affect how tumours develop and respond to treatment, so this discovery could help us personalise treatments depending which genes have been copied in an individual patient’s cancer.
Written by Esther Redhouse White
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