Our knowledge of cancer is benefiting hugely from big data – the huge amounts of information flooding out of modern analysis. The next challenge is making sense of it all. This circular infographic reveals discoveries from one patient’s cancer. Each circle represents 23 regions of DNA (called chromosomes) found in healthy cells in their colon (inner ring), a colon tumour (middle circle) and a metastatic cancer, which spread to their liver (outer blue ring). Although DNA mutations are frequent in cancer, it’s not the DNA that is changing here, but the chemicals that surround it – the epigenome. For example, chemicals wrapped around chromosome number 4 (maroon) in the healthy colon (dark blue lines, inner ring) fade in the cancerous cells (light blue, outer rings). Epigenetics is crucial to how normal and diseased cells use their DNA, and this detailed information could lead to targeted therapies in years to come.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.