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International Cancer Genome Consortium plans to sequence 25,000 cancer genomes


Toronto, ON – The International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) has released a 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 plan outlines research design and projects as well as the important ethical framework for this science. The ICGC also announced that new members have joined the consortium. 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. Funded projects will examine more than 10,000 tumours for cancer types found around the globe that affect a diversity of organs including blood, brain, breast, colon, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach, oral cavity and ovary.

A paper was published in the journal Nature this week that was written by over 200 authors participating in ICGC projects. 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, April 17-21, 2010.

Studies of breast, liver, and pancreatic cancer have already generated datasets which are now available on the ICGC website at www.icgc.org. The genomic analyses of the tumors were conducted by ICGC members in the U.K. (breast cancer), Japan (liver cancer), and Australia and Canada (pancreatic cancer). The data are housed in the Data Coordination Center which is hosted by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto.

Paul Nurse, cancer scientist and 2001 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine said, “The International Cancer Genome Consortium initiative will profoundly alter our understanding of the development of human cancer, across the spectrum of tumour types. 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 International Cancer Genome Consortium is one of most ambitious biomedical research efforts since the Human Genome Project. The consortium will help to coordinate current and future large-scale projects to understand the genomic changes involved in cancer. ICGC member organizations and participating centres have agreed on common standards for informed consent and ethical oversight to ensure that all samples will be coded and stored in ways that protect the identities of the participants in the study. To maximize the public benefit from ICGC member research, data will be made rapidly available to qualified investigators. In addition, all consortium participants will agree not to file any patent applications or make other intellectual property claims on primary data from ICGC projects.