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Sci. Signal., 2 April 2013
Vol. 6, Issue 269, p. pe13
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003684]


The Scientific Drunk and the Lamppost: Massive Sequencing Efforts in Cancer Discovery and Treatment

Michael B. Yaffe1,2*

1 Chief Scientific Editor, Science Signaling, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1200 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA.
2 Professor, David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, The Broad Institute, and Departments of Biology and Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Abstract: The massive resources devoted to genome sequencing of human tumors have produced important data sets for the cancer biology community. Paradoxically, however, these studies have revealed very little new biology. Despite this, additional resources in the United States are slated to continue such work and to expand similar efforts in genome sequencing to mouse tumors. It may be that scientists are "addicted" to the large amounts of data that can be relatively easily obtained, even though these data seem unlikely, on their own, to unveil new cancer treatment options or result in the ultimate goal of a cancer cure. Rather than using more tumor genetic sequences, a better strategy for identifying new treatment options may be to develop methods for analyzing the signaling networks that underlie cancer development, progression, and therapeutic resistance at both a personal and systems-wide level.

* Corresponding author. E-mail: myaffe{at}

Citation: M. B. Yaffe, The Scientific Drunk and the Lamppost: Massive Sequencing Efforts in Cancer Discovery and Treatment. Sci. Signal. 6, pe13 (2013).

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