Tumours are formed when mutations occur in any of the many genes that regulate cell division. This makes all tumours genetically different.
The DNA in our cells is constantly being damaged. Sometimes this damage is from internal forces, and sometimes this is by external forces. Whatever the cause, our cells also contain a ‘repair kit’ of DNA damage response proteins which are able to repair DNA damage. If DNA damage results in a change to the sequence of DNA, or when the repair processes make an incorrect fix, this is called a mutation.
There are common patterns of mutations which appear in ageing and cancer. By using modern DNA sequencing techniques, we can get biological insights into these patterns of DNA mutations. This allows us to understand how DNA damage and DNA repair processes play a role in aging and cancer.
This image was made in response to research by Serena Nik Zainal.