Cancer research

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Cancer research is research into cancer in order to identify causes and develop strategies for prevention, diagnosis, treatments and cure.

Cancer research ranges from epidemiology, molecular bioscience (bench research) to the performance of clinical trials to evaluate and compare applications of the various cancer treatment. These applications include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy, and combined treatment modalities such as chemo-radiotherapy. Starting in the mid-1990s, the emphasis in clinical cancer research shifted towards therapies derived from biotechnology research, such as immunotherapy and gene therapy.

Areas of research


This type of research involves many different disciplines including genetics, diet, environmental factors (i.e., chemical carcinogens).

Genes involved in cancer

As the Cancer Genome Project stated in a 2004 review article, "a central aim of cancer research has been to identify the mutated genes that are causally implicated in oncogenesis (cancer genes)."[1]

Several hereditary factors can increase the chance of cancer-causing mutations, including the activation of oncogenes or the inhibition of tumor suppressor genes. The functions of various onco- and tumor suppressor genes can be disrupted at different stages of tumor progression. Mutations in such genes can be used to classify the malignancy of a tumor.

In later stages, tumors can develop a resistance to cancer treatment. The identification of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes is important to understand tumor progression and treatment success.

Genes and protein products that have been identified by at least two independent publications as being involved in cancer are: ABI1, ABL2, ACSL6, AF1Q, AF5Q31 (also known as MCEF), AKT1, ARNT, ASPSCR1, ATF1, ATIC, BCL10, BFHD, BIRC3, BMPR1A, BTG1, CBFA2T1, CBFA2T3, CBFB, CCND1, CDC2, CDK4, CHIC2, CHN1, COPEB, COX6C, CTNNB1, CYLD, DDB2, DDIT3, DEK, EIF4A2, EPS15, ERCC2, ERCC3, ERCC5, ERG, ETV4, ETV6, EWSR1, EXT1, EXT2, FANCC, FANCG, FGFR1OP, FGFR3, FH, FIP1L1, FUS, GAS7, GATA1, GMPS, GOLGA5, GPC, GPHN, HIST1H4I, HRAS, HSPCA, IL21R, IRF4, KRAS2, LASP1, LCP1, LHFP, LMO2, LYL1, MADH4, MLF1, MLH1, MLLT3, MLLT6, MNAT1, MSF, MSH2, MSN, MUTYH, MYC, NCOA4, NF2, NPM1, NRAS, PAX8, PCBD, PDGFB, PIM1, PLK2, PNUTL1, POU2F1, PPARG, PRCC, PRKACB, PRKAR1A, PTEN, PTPN11, RABEP1, RAD51L1, RAP1GDS1, RARA, RB1, RET, RHOH, RPL22, SBDS, SDHB, SEPTIN6, SET, SH3GL1, SS18L1, SSX1, SSX2, SSX4, STAT3, TAF15, TCF12, TCL1A, TFE3, TFEB, TFG, TFPT, TFRC, TNFRSF6, TP53, TPM3, TPM4, TRIP11, VHL, WAS, WT1, ZNF198, ZNF278, ZNF384, ZNFN1A1 Based on a study by M. R Straton and co-workers " A census of human cancer genes".


Current topics of cancer treatment research include:

Specific treatment research topics


In January 2007 researchers of the University of Alberta reported preliminary results of dichloroacetate (DCA) causing regression in several cancers in vitro, including lung, breast and brain tumors.[3] Since the compound DCA itself cannot be patented it could be an inexpensive alternative to other treatments, depending of course on whether the method of using DCA in the treatment of cancer is patentable. Clinical use of DCA will of course require further public/private investment for clinical trials.[4] The initial research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.[5]


  • Vaccines (see HPV Vaccine)
  • Recent research may indicate a connection between Vitamin D deficiency and cancer.[6]


Some methods, like Dichloroacetate, cannot be patented and thus would not garner the investment interest towards research from the pharmaceutical industry.[4]

Stemcell research

Clinical trials


Related chapters



  1. Futreal PA, Coin L, Marshall M, Down T, Hubbard T, Wooster R, Rahman, N, Stratton MR (2004). "A census of human cancer genes". Nature Reviews Cancer. 4: 177–83. PMID 14993899.
  2. "Gene Therapy, Cancer-Killing Viruses And New Drugs Highlight Novel Approaches To Cancer Treatment". Medical News Today. Retrieved April 24. Unknown parameter |accessyear= ignored (|access-date= suggested) (help); Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. Alberta scientists test chemotherapy alternative. Last Updated Wednesday, January 17, 2007
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers". New Scientist. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2007-01-17.
  5. University of Alberta - Small molecule offers big hope against cancer. January 16, 2007
  6. "Vitamin D casts cancer prevention in new light". Globe and Mail. 2007-04-28. Retrieved 2007-04-29.

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