DATABASE: Counting Cancer's Bad Breaks

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Science  18 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5712, pp. 1021
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5712.1021b

Mutations can foil the intricate mechanism that controls cell division, triggering cancer. COSMIC, a year-old database from the Sanger Institute near Cambridge, U.K., tallies the faults within genes that can promote uncontrolled growth. Curators plucked information on more than 18,000 noninherited mutations from published studies, focusing on 21 genes that don't already have their own databases. You can search the collection by gene or by tissue to find out the location and frequency of different glitches. For instance, 47% of eye tumors sport mutations in the gene RB1, whose protein normally keeps growth-stimulating molecules in check. The database also records instances in which a particular gene isn't mutated in a certain sample, information that can help pin down how often the change occurs in different cancers.

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