Unraveling the Cancer Genome

Unraveling the Cancer Genome

cancer genome


An in-depth look and research into the genomic analysis on a set of molecular and clinical data from over 10,000 tumors constituting to 33 cancer types, also known as the PanCancer Atlas, was finalized by researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. In a collaboration between National Human Genome Research Institute and National Cancer Institute that instigated The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), and with over $300 million in funding, the PanCancer Atlas was issued across a suite of Cell journals comprising of 29 research papers which involved 150 researchers from across more than 24 institutions spread around North America.

NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. shares the importance of the research, “This project is the culmination of more than a decade of groundbreaking work. This analysis provides cancer researchers with unprecedented understanding of how, where and why tumors arise in humans, enabling better informed clinical trials and future treatments.”

With cancer genome sequencing as top priority, the project also delved into the different types of data analyses included investigation of gene and protein expression profiles and aligning them with imaging and clinical data.

To further understand PanCancer Atlas, it is best to start with summary papers that encapsulates the study’s three main classifications: cell of origin, oncogenic processes, and oncogenic pathways. These topics are also backed up by more thorough companion papers.

The first paper summarizes the use of molecular clustering from a set of data analyses where tumors were grouped according to variables such as genes expression, chromosome numbers abnormality in tumor cells as well as DNA modifications. The findings lead us to understand how a tumor tissue of origin plays a role in a cancer’s features that could further pave the way for more treatments for different cancer types.

Furthermore, findings recorded in the the second paper identified three critical oncogenic processes that lead to cancer development and progression namely: germline (inherited) and somatic (acquired) mutations, influence of the tumor’s underlying genome and epigenome on gene and protein progression, and lastly, the interplay of tumor and immune cells.

Lastly, the final summary paper, specifies investigations made by the TCGA on the genomic alterations in the signaling pathways that control the progression of cell cycles, as well as the death and growth of cells, showing the similarities and differences in these processes across a diversity of cancers. To aid in the development of combined therapies and personalized medicines, the findings also displays new patterns on cancer’s potential vulnerabilities.

Anyone can access the complete collection of these papers on PanCancer Atlas through a portal on cell.com. Moreover, people can also look forward to a three-day symposium this coming September 27 to 29, 2018 entitled “TCGA Legacy: Multi-Omic Studies in Cancer” which will be held in Washington, D.C. A discussion about the future of large-scale studies, a session focusing on PanCancer Atlas, latest advancements in cancer’s genomic architecture, and a showcase of recent progress towards therapeutic targeting are some of the things attendees can look forward to at the event.