The Pan-Cancer Project is a collaboration involving more than 1,300 scientists and clinicians from 37 countries. The consortium has analyzed more than 2,600 genomes of 38 different tumor types, creating a huge resource of primary cancer genomes. This was then the launch-point for 16 working groups studying multiple aspects of cancer’s development, causation, progression and classification.
Previous studies focused on the 1 per cent of the genome that codes for proteins, analogous to mapping the coasts of the continents. The Pan-Cancer Project explored in considerably greater detail the remaining 99 per cent of the genome, including key regions that control switching genes on and off -- analogous to mapping the interiors of continents versus just their coastlines.
The Pan-Cancer Project has made available a comprehensive resource for cancer genomics research, including the raw genome sequencing data, software for cancer genome analysis, and multiple interactive websites exploring various aspects of the Pan-Cancer Project data.
“We have been involved in identifying the whole-genome panorama of cancer-causing mutations across more than 2,600 tumors.” Explains Abel González, Research Associate at the Biomedical Genomics Lab at IRB Barcelona. “As a result, for the first time, we have a complete view of how much different types of mutations in different genomic elements contribute to tumorigenesis. This panorama constitutes a blueprint to advance on the path towards a genomics-based precision cancer medicine,” he concludes.
The Pan-Cancer Project extended and advanced methods for analyzing cancer genomes which included cloud computing, and by applying these methods to its large dataset, discovered new knowledge about cancer biology and confirmed important findings of previous studies. In 23 papers published today in Nature and its affiliated journals, the Pan-Cancer Project reports that:
ICGC - International Cancer Genome Consortium (https://icgc.org/)
TCGA - The Cancer Genome Atlas (https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/organization/ccg/research/structural-genomics/tcga)
PCAWG - PanCancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (dcc.icgc.org/pcawg)
Expression Atlas (www.ebi.ac.uk/gxa/home)
Chromothripsis Explorer (compbio.med.harvard.edu/chromothripsis)