In a world first, Canadian scientists have decoded all three billion letters of DNA in a breast cancer tumor and identified the mutations that caused the cancer to spread.
The landmark study by researchers at the British Columbia Cancer Agency is a first step towards unlocking the secrets of how cancer begins and moves to other parts of the body.
Principal investigator Dr. Samuel Aparicio says the discovery should help researchers develop new breast cancer treatments based on the mutated genes.
Aparicio says the work is another major step towards personalized medicine.
Co-author Dr. Marco Marra says new-generation technology allowed the researchers to decode the breast cancer DNA in just weeks and at a fraction of what it would have cost only a few years ago.
The study is the cover story in this week's issue of the prestigious journal Nature.