Same Mutations Underpin Spread of Cancer in Individuals

Lead co-author, Johannes Reiter, PhD

September 11, 2018

A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, and other collaborating institutions, has arrived at a key understanding about how cancers in individual patients spread or metastasize. “We took samples from multiple untreated metastases […] and we observed a mix of overlapping and differing driver mutations,” noted Johannes Reiter, PhD, an instructor of radiology at Stanford. “Through computational analyses, we inferred that the driver mutations that were most likely to contribute to cancer development were shared among all metastases in each patient.” By analyzing their data against massive databases that hold mutational data of more than 25,000 previously sequenced cancers, scientists discovered that the driver gene mutations that were shared among all metastases in an individual were also frequently mutated in previously sequenced cancers, indicating that these mutations are the true drivers of the disease and play a critical role during cancer development.

This study included other researchers from Harvard University and Memorial Sloan Kettering, as well as researchers from Johns Hopkins University, and was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health.