Trust to coordinate breast cancer studies in international cancer effort
19 November 2008
The Trust and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have joined ten other funding organisations from eight countries under the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), the first projects of which have now been announced.
The projects seek to generate comprehensive, high-resolution analyses of the genetic changes in cancer. Consortium members will organise studies of at least one specific cancer type or subtype. Each project is expected to cost an estimated US$20 million and will analyse samples from around 500 patients.
Once thought of as a single disease, cancer is now understood to consist of a large number of different conditions. In almost all forms, however, cancer is associated with mutations in the genomes of cells, and with disruptions to normal biological pathways that lead to uncontrolled cell growth.
Because genomic changes are often specific to a particular type or stage of cancer, systematically mapping the changes that occur in each cancer could provide the foundation for research to identify new therapies, diagnostics and preventive strategies.
Other nations and organisations are expected to join the ICGC over the next decade, allowing up to 50 types of cancer to be thoroughly studied. Ultimately, the project will generate datasets that are 25 000 times larger than the Human Genome Project. The ICGC will make its data rapidly and freely available to the global research community.
“Such catalogues will be valuable resources for all researchers working to develop new and better ways of diagnosing, treating and preventing cancer,” said Thomas Hudson, MD, of the ICGC Secretariat, based at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto, Canada.
Worldwide, more than 7.5 million people died of cancer in 2007, with more than 12m new cases diagnosed. Unless progress is made in understanding and controlling the disease, those numbers are expected to rise to 17.5m deaths and 27m new cases in 2050.
The ICGC was launched in April with the aim of coordinating current and future large-scale projects to understand the genomic changes involved in cancer.
Image: Human breast cancer cells dividing; Wellcome Images/Dr David Becker