Technology & Science

Cancer genome project expands

An international partnership including Canadians who plan to decode the genomes of 25,000 cancer samples announced their research plans on Tuesday.

An international partnership including Canadians who plan to decode the genomes of 25,000 cancer samples announced their research plans on Tuesday.

A paper published in the journal Nature describes how International Cancer Genome Consortium projects will proceed, and outlines the common framework and goals for project.

The main aim is to catalogue 50 different types and subtypes of cancer in adults and children, including a look at more than 10,000 tumors in the blood, brain, breast, colon, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach, oral cavity and ovary.

Hundreds of individual human cancer genome sequences are expected to be published in 2010 and thousands more after that.

"A new era of cancer research has dawned, in which our ability to look deep into the genomes of cancer cells will accelerate progress towards finding new cancer therapies and designing strategies for early detection or prevention," said Sam Aparicio, head of the molecular oncology and breast cancer research program at the BC Cancer Agency, which is participating in the project.

The paper's authors wrote that there is a need for a "delicate balance between protecting participants' personal data and sharing these data to accelerate cancer research."

The group also announced that new projects in Italy and the European Union would contribute to research efforts already underway in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Data on breast, liver and pancreatic cancer have already been publicly released.

All of the data is housed at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto.