School of Biological Sciences’ research tests widely-held medical hypothesis

John McDonald, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Integrated Cancer Research Center.

Cancer associated mutations were identified in the 1000 genomes population (1KGP.)

Oncotarget (January 28th, 2020)

A new study by researchers in the School of Biological Sciences raises new questions about a decades-old, award-winning theory regarding how many genetic mutations are necessary for cancer to develop in human cells.

That theory, called the Knudson Hypothesis, argued that two mutations in the type of genes that suppress tumors are needed to lead to changes that could cause cancer. However, John McDonald, a School of Biological Sciences professor and the director of Georgia Tech’s Integrated Cancer Research Center, says the research, published in Oncotarget, “shows, for the first time, that nearly all normal healthy individuals carry at least one potentially cancer-causing tumor suppressor gene mutation. The implication is that a majority of the human population is, to a greater or lesser extent, predisposed to develop cancer.”

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