Redefining Cancer Research

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Science  11 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5946, pp. 1319
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181224

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Senator Ted Kennedy's recent death from malignant glioma, an incurable brain tumor, reminds us of the terrible toll that cancer takes on humanity. The United States alone experiences nearly 1.5 million new cases of cancer each year, resulting in more than 500,000 annual deaths, and about one-fourth of us will die in this way. Jim Watson, of DNA double-helix fame, argues that because of our new profound understandings of the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease, it's finally time to launch a real war on cancer.* I agree. But for success in such a project, we will need to expand the scope of “cancer research” funding, so as to include far more than work with cancer cells themselves.