Understanding the specific mutations that contribute to different forms of cancer is critical to improving diagnosis and treatment. But limitations in DNA sequencing technology make it difficult to detect some major mutations often linked to cancer, such as the loss or duplication of parts of chromosomes.
Now, methods developed by Princeton computer scientists will allow researchers to more accurately identify these mutations in cancerous tissue, yielding a clearer picture of the evolution and spread of tumors than was previously possible.
Losses or duplications in chromosomes are known to occur in most solid tumors, such as ovarian, pancreatic, breast and prostate tumors. As cells grow and divide, slip-ups in the processes of copying and separating DNA can also lead to the deletion or duplication of individual genes on chromosomes, or the duplication of a cell’s entire genome — all 23 pairs of human