Progress towards this objective has been too gradual to date.

‘This will require linking genetic info from patients’ tissue samples to high quality data on whether they take advantage of the treatment, and for how long that benefit lasts.’ The specialised apparatus and expertise necessary to uncover a tumour’s genetic fingerprint mean that trials will be costly to run. But scientists believe the end result could be improved effectiveness in the prescribing of malignancy treatments hugely, improved survival and a big reduction in the number of sufferers who are over treated. Professor Johnston adds: ‘Analysis has already yielded a large collection of treatments for cancer. The task before us now could be to find methods to use this growing arsenal effectively.’ ‘This means demonstrating the true clinical value of the tests we have developed in the laboratory through large-scale scientific trials.Building on the huge success of the Individual Genome Project, scientists use the library to help identify the cluster of genes representing the essence of malignancy . These genes, crucial for the development of the disease, will tend to be ideal targets for the future generation of anti-cancer drugs. Scientists produced designer molecules of DNA called vectors, each of which codes for a bit of interference RNA and selectively inactivates an individual gene.