The International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) today set out its bold plan to decode the genomes from 25,000 cancer samples and create a resource of freely available data that will help cancer researchers around the world. The publication outlines research design and projects as well as the important ethical framework for this science.
The ICGC also announced that new projects in Italy and the European Union will contribute to efforts already underway in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As the UK's arm of the ICGC, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute will decode hundreds of breast cancer genomes as part of the Consortium's international efforts.
Other funded projects will examine more than 10,000 tumours for cancer types that affect organs including blood, brain, breast, colon, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach, oral cavity and ovary.
The paper, by over 200 authors participating in ICGC projects, is published today in the journal Nature. The paper describes how the projects will proceed, outlining the ethical framework, study design and policies. ICGC leaders will also present progress on their projects at the annual conference of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington DC, 17 - 21 April, 2010.
"Generating comprehensive catalogues of human cancer mutations will require a tremendous amount of work and collaboration over the coming years," says Professor Mike Stratton, joint leader of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute's Cancer Genome Project. "By sharing ideas, resources and data across scientific and clinical disciplines, we will be able to translate advances in knowledge into real benefits for future generations of patients."
Studies of breast, liver, and pancreatic cancer have already generated datasets which are now available on the ICGC website. In a study published last year, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute made available the results of the first detailed search for genomic rearrangements in breast cancer genomes and complete genome sequences of a melanoma and small cell lung cancer. Other analyses of tumours conducted by ICGC members in Japan (liver cancer) and Australia and Canada (pancreatic cancer) have also been made available. The data are housed in the Data Coordination Center which is hosted by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto.
"The International Cancer Genome Consortium initiative will profoundly alter our understanding of the development of human cancer, across the spectrum of tumour types," says Sir Paul Nurse, cancer scientist and 2001 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine. "The worldwide, coordinated nature of the project and the plans for data release will facilitate efficient deployment of resources and ensure that all cancer researchers can use the information generated in a timely manner."
"The data released today can be used immediately by researchers who are working on better ways of preventing, detecting, diagnosing and treating cancer," says Professor Eric S Lander, President and Director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and a member of ICGC. "The ability to identify the genetic changes in cancer is leading to new ways to devise therapies directed at the underlying cellular mechanisms of cancer and to target the right therapies to the right patients. We are moving into an era where the prescription for cancer treatment should be based on the genetics of each patient's tumor."
International Cancer Genome Consortium