PCGP announces release of 520 genome sequences
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


MEMPHIS—The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project has announced the release of 520 comprehensive genome sequences, the largest of its kind, for free access by the global scientific community. The release more than doubles the amount of in-depth, whole-genome data currently available, and was announced in tandem with a perspective published online in Nature Genetics on May 29.  
"Setting this precedent reflects a commitment to freely sharing information that has been a hallmark of St. Jude since we opened our doors 50 years ago," Dr. William E. Evans, director and CEO of St. Jude, said in a press release. "The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is a one-of-a-kind effort, so the information has the potential to accelerate disease research worldwide."  
The released genome sequences consist of matched sets of normal and tumor tissue samples from 260 pediatric cancer patients, with each sample sequenced at a quality control level known as 30-fold coverage. The genome sequence data will be available for access to researchers worldwide via the online European Genome-Phenome Archive, which offers large datasets for free access by request. At told, the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is expected to sequence more than 1,200 genomes by the end of 2012.
"This effort has generated more discoveries than we thought possible. We want to make this information available to the broader scientific community so that, collectively, we can explore new treatment options for these children," James Downing, M.D., scientific director and leader of the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project at St. Jude, said in a press release. "By sharing the information even before we analyze it ourselves, we're hoping that other researchers can use this rich resource for insights into many other types of diseases in children and adults."
The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, which was launched in 2010 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 to run three years, with a price tag of approximately $65 million ($55 million of which is being covered by St. Jude, including a $20 million commitment from Kay Jewelers, one of the hospital's long-standing partners), the initiative is taking a new and more in-depth approach to cancer study. Researchers are sequencing the entire genome in each tumor, all the DNA, rather than just single or multiple genes. The whole-genome sequencing of the tumors, combined with corresponding sequencing of normal tissue samples, provides a more complete and detailed look at the DNA changes that take place in the genome as well as in terms of disease development and progression. The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is the first major privately funded project of its kind to share data as soon as it is available.
"This approach has been more valuable that anyone could have predicted," Richard K. Wilson, Ph.D., director of The Genome Institute at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a press release. "We have identified unusual, 'cryptic' changes in many patients' cancer cells that we would not have found using other methods. We are pleased to be able to share this data with the research community in hopes that others can build upon our initial discoveries."    
SOURCE: PCGP press release
Code: E05311201

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