NIH institutes launch effort to explore cancer genomics

December 16, 2005

The National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute have launched a comprehensive effort to accelerate the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through genome analysis technologies, especially large-scale genome sequencing.

The National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute have launched a comprehensive effort to accelerate the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through genome analysis technologies, especially large-scale genome sequencing. The effort, known as The Cancer Genome Atlas, will begin with a pilot project to determine the feasibility of a full-scale effort to explore genomic changes in all types of cancer.

“This atlas of genomic changes will provide new insights into the biological basis of cancer, which in turn will lead to new tests to detect cancer in its early, most treatable stages; new therapies to target cancer at its most vulnerable points; and, ultimately, new strategies to prevent cancer,” said Elias A. Zerhouni, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health.

The project, which will develop and test the science and technology framework needed to systematically identify and characterize the genetic mutations and other genomic changes associated with cancer, will involve a few types of cancer that will be chosen for their value in helping to determine the feasibility of a possible larger-scale project.