BRAF: From Gene to Cancer Therapy

Take on the role of a genome researcher and look at real cancer DNA datasets, taken from cancer patients, to find areas of mutation in the BRAF gene. 

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute scientist Ultan McDermott tells the story of BRAF.

In this activity you get the chance to take on the role of genome researchers. Like the scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, you will lead the journey from cancer gene discovery to drug development.

You will interpret real cancer DNA datasets. DNA has been isolated from both tumour and healthy tissue from melanoma patients and sequenced on next generation DNA sequencing machines. By exploring the data you will uncover the significance of the BRAF mutation in malignant melanoma. You will then compare your findings to those of other cancer researchers using the online database COSMIC.

There is also the opportunity for you to discuss with others, the significance of this mutation and its implications in the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

All cancers are genetic diseases, resulting from changes in the DNA sequence of our genome. These changes, or mutations, in the DNA sequence can alter the function of important genes, causing cells to start growing out of control. This eventually leads to the formation of a tumour. The BRAF gene is mutated in many human cancers. Research suggests that around 5,000 people die every year from different cancers with BRAF mutations.

Age: 16 years + (AS and A2 level)

This page was last updated on 2015-01-14