Advances in understanding tumour evolution through single-cell sequencing.

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The mutational heterogeneity observed within tumours poses additional challenges to the development of effective cancer treatments. A thorough understanding of a tumour’s subclonal composition and its mutational history is essential to open up the design of treatments tailored to individual patients. Comparative studies on a large number of tumours permit the identification of mutational patterns which may refine forecasts of cancer progression, response to treatment and metastatic potential. The composition of tumours is shaped by evolutionary processes. Recent advances in next-generation sequencing offer the possibility to analyse the evolutionary history and accompanying heterogeneity of tumours at an unprecedented resolution, by sequencing single cells. New computational challenges arise when moving from bulk to single-cell sequencing data, leading to the development of novel modelling frameworks. In this review, we present the state of the art methods for understanding the phylogeny encoded in bulk or single-cell sequencing data, and highlight future directions for developing more comprehensive and informative pictures of tumour evolution.

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