Recent studies have shown that the multiplication of circular or ecDNA genes—a phenomenon called ecDNA oncogene amplification—is present in a broad range of cancer tumor types. ecDNA is a common event in human cancer, occurring at minimum in 14% of human tumors, with higher frequencies in the most malignant forms of cancer, including glioblastoma, sarcoma, esophageal, ovarian, lung, bladder, head and neck, gastric, and many others.
These circles of DNA change how cancer-driving oncogenes are expressed, and, in so doing, promote cancer growth and play a key role in tumors’ ability to evolve and resist treatments. Patients whose cancers have ecDNA have significantly shorter survival than all other cancer Patients, whose tumors are driven by other molecular lesions, even when grouped by tumor type.
These ecDNA circles could be the key to powerful anticancer therapies for individuals with ecDNA-driven cancers.