Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Cancer Consortium to Study 25K Samples

[Source Genome Technology News, Julia Karow] - An international research consortium plans to catalog genetic alterations in 50 different types of cancer in what amounts to be the largest human genome resequencing project launched to date.
The International Cancer Genome Consortium, which launched in late April, was created to serve as an umbrella for existing and future cancer genome projects worldwide.

Over the next decade or so, the group will use new sequencing technologies and other molecular tools to comprehensively analyze approximately 25,000 cancer genome samples for a total estimated cost of $1 billion, and to make the data publicly available.

"It's very much the next-generation sequencing technologies which are driving this consortium, … which we could not even imagine three years ago" because of the prohibitive cost, says Tom Hudson, president and scientific director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto, which serves as the ICGC's headquarters.

Current members hail from North America, China, Singapore, Japan, the European Union, Australia, and India. Members fund the projects they contribute to the consortium.

"It's a very ambitious project," says ICGC member Mike Stratton, deputy director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and head of the institute's Cancer Genome Project. "There will never have been a sample collection in cancer as big as this one will be in its aggregate."

Projects like Sanger's Cancer Genome Project or the US National Institutes of Health's Cancer Genome Atlas will continue their work but will contribute their data to the ICGC and adhere to its mandates, according to the consortium.

The central aim of the consortium is to catalog genomic abnormalities, or somatic mutations, in 50 cancer types or subtypes, including SNPs, insertions, deletions, copy number changes, translocations, and other chromosomal rearrangements.

Researchers will also generate gene expression and DNA methylation data for these samples.

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