A team at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK have- with the help of CRISPR- taken cancer apart, piece-by-piece. One at a time, the team took apart every genetic instruction inside 30 types of cancer to reveal weaknesses. Six hundred to be exact.


And each one could now be the target of a new drug

Currently, standard cancer treatment is cut and burn, in broad general terms, meaning it affects the entire body. However, this study “heralds the future of personalized cancer medicine.”1

One of the researchers, Dr. Fiona Behan, told the BBC: “The information we have uncovered in this study has identified key weak-spots of the cancer cells, and will allow us to develop drugs that target the cancer and leave the healthy tissue undamaged.”1


(Wanna know more about CRISPR? Check out the video below.)

“The researchers embarked on a gargantuan feat of disabling each genetic instruction – called a gene – inside cancers, to see which were crucial for survival.

They disrupted nearly 20,000 genes in more than 300 lab-grown tumors made from 30 different types of cancer.

The results, published in the journal Nature, revealed 6,000 crucial genes which at least one type of cancer needs to survive. Some were unsuitable for developing cancer drugs, as they are also essential in healthy cells. Others are already the target of precision drugs like Herceptin in breast cancer – the team called this a ‘sanity check’ that proves their method works.”1

But there are even more beyond our current science to develop suitable drugs, so the researchers narrowed down the list to 600 potential new targets for drugs to attack.


The work was a colab between Sanger, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Big Pharma giant, GSK with the aim of developing a “Cancer Dependency Map” of every vulnerability in every type of cancer. (Also, of developing drugs to make lots of money.)


  1. BBC