April 6, 2018
Gen News Highlight

Digging deeper than previous cancer genomic studies, the PanCancer Initiative has released an analysis of 33 types of cancer across more than 10,000 patients. The new analysis shows that all 33 cancer types, based on their cellular and genetic makeup and independent of their anatomic site of origin, could be reclassified into 28 different molecular types, or “clusters”. Nearly two-thirds of these clusters were considered heterogeneous as they contained up to 25 different histological tumor types that, traditionally, would all be treated differently.

These findings, generated by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, suggest new possibilities for immune-based and other novel cancer therapeutics, and may encourage clinicians to obtain and utilize comprehensive genomic information to enroll their patients into specialized “basket” or “umbrella” clinical trials.

Taken as a whole, the findings constitute the PanCancer atlas, which appeared April 5 as a collection of 27 papers across of suite of Cell journals. In Cell, one of the more general articles (“Cell-of-Origin Patterns Dominate the Molecular Classification of 10,000 Tumors from 33 Types of Cancer”) noted that the PanCancer collaboration’s previous analysis had included only a third of the final set of TCGA tumors.

“It seemed appropriate,” this paper indicated, “to analyze all 33 tumor types to address the intriguing questions left unanswered: Whether the inclusion of many more tumors and tumor types enhances the number of cross-tissue associations, produces additional convergent and/or divergent integrated molecular subtypes, and significantly increases the fraction of cancer patients whose classification or treatment might be affected by this new taxonomic approach.”

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