MEMPHIS—The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital –Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project has announced the releaseof 520 comprehensive genome sequences, the largest of its kind, for free accessby the global scientific community. The release more than doubles the amount ofin-depth, whole-genome data currently available, and was announced in tandemwith a perspective published online in Nature Genetics on May 29.
"Setting this precedent reflects a commitment to freelysharing information that has been a hallmark of St. Jude since we opened ourdoors 50 years ago," Dr. William E. Evans, director and CEO of St. Jude, saidin a press release. "The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is a one-of-a-kindeffort, so the information has the potential to accelerate disease researchworldwide."
The released genome sequences consist of matched sets ofnormal and tumor tissue samples from 260 pediatric cancer patients, with eachsample sequenced at a quality control level known as 30-fold coverage. The genomesequence data will be available for access to researchers worldwide via theonline European Genome-Phenome Archive, which offers large datasets for freeaccess by request. At told, the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is expected tosequence more than 1,200 genomes by the end of 2012.
"This effort has generated more discoveries than we thoughtpossible. We want to make this information available to the broader scientificcommunity so that, collectively, we can explore new treatment options for thesechildren," James Downing, M.D., scientific director and leader of the PediatricCancer Genome Project at St. Jude, said in a press release. "By sharing theinformation even before we analyze it ourselves, we're hoping that otherresearchers can use this rich resource for insights into many other types ofdiseases in children and adults."
The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, which was launched in2010 between St. Jude and Washington University School of Medicine in St.Louis, is the largest effort to date in the study of pediatric cancers. Set torun three years, with a price tag of approximately $65 million ($55 million ofwhich is being covered by St. Jude, including a $20 million commitment from KayJewelers, one of the hospital's long-standing partners), the initiative istaking a new and more in-depth approach to cancer study. Researchers aresequencing the entire genome in each tumor, all the DNA, rather than justsingle or multiple genes. The whole-genome sequencing of the tumors, combinedwith corresponding sequencing of normal tissue samples, provides a morecomplete and detailed look at the DNA changes that take place in the genome aswell as in terms of disease development and progression. The Pediatric CancerGenome Project is the first major privately funded project of its kind to sharedata as soon as it is available.
"This approach has been more valuable that anyone could havepredicted," Richard K. Wilson, Ph.D., director of The Genome Institute atWashington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a press release."We have identified unusual, 'cryptic' changes in many patients' cancer cellsthat we would not have found using other methods. We are pleased to be able toshare this data with the research community in hopes that others can build uponour initial discoveries."
SOURCE: PCGP press release