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Genes Dev. 2007 Sep 15;21(18):2258-70.

The origins of oncomice: a history of the first transgenic mice genetically engineered to develop cancer.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Diabetes Center, and Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


This perspective describes the concurrent development in the 1980s of the first transgenic mice genetically engineered to express dominant oncogenes, involving independent researchers who were largely unaware of each other's strategies and progress. We relate the experimental designs, the pitfalls and challenges encountered, and the eventual success in developing distinctive mouse models of cancer, wherein tumors arose heritably in various organs. These early oncomice have produced a wealth of new knowledge, become topics of intellectual property, and spawned a vibrant field of cancer research that is revealing mechanisms of tumorigenesis and suggesting new therapeutic strategies for treating the human disease.

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