We probably contract cancer every day but our immune system simply deals with it before it becomes a problem. That is just one of the many insights offered up by a panel of experts at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions last week.

During an hour-long discussion on Decoding Cancer, the panel explained the newest discoveries about the disease. NHS director Francis S. Collins said that we now know it takes more than one glitch (or, as he put it, “spelling errors”) for a cell to go from healthy to malignant. With better understanding of these glitches, the focus is beginning to shift from which organ has cancer to which kind of mutation has occurred. That is leading doctors away from traditional one-size-fits-all solutions such as chemotherapy, and towards the development of “smart bombs” in treatment.

Also on the panel was Katrine Bosley, CEO of Editas Medicine, who explained that the idea of cancer as a DNA disease has now taken hold in the medical community.

She was joined by Lydia Sohn, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, and Cao Xuetao, President of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. The discussion was moderated by Jeffrey M. Drazen, Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Author: Donald Armbrecht is a freelance writer and social media producer.

Image: A radiologist examines the brain X-rays of a patient who underwent a cancer prevention medical check-up at the North Bengal Oncology Center. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri