A migrating breast cancer cell.Credit: Steve Gschmeissner/SPL

Deirdre Saulet | Advisory Board | February 10, 2020

A team of international clinicians and scientists on Wednesday published findings from a comprehensive review of more than 2,600 cancer genomes, which observers say could further pave the way for clinicians to prescribe precise treatments to cancer patients based on their genes.


The team, who published their findings in 23 papers in Nature and its affiliated journals, completed the research through a joint project of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and U.S.-funded Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) called the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes Project (PCAWG). The project involved more than 1,300 clinicians and scientists, including members of Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT, from across 37 countries.

Whereas researchers in the past had only looked at 1% of the cancer genome that specifically codes for proteins, called the exome, this project analyzed the entire cancer genome. To understand this remaining 99%, a team of 16 working groups analyzed more than 2,600 whole genomes from 38 different tumor types using the field’s largest publicly available whole-genome dataset. The project took six years.

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