BGI Tech, START to collaborate on cancer genome initiative
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.óBGI Tech Solutions Co., LTD, a subsidiary of genomics research organization BGI, and South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics (START) have announced that they will collaborate on the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project (SA1kCGP), a cancer genome study that intends to link the genetic alterations particular to different cancers with detailed clinical outcomes. All the data resulting from this collaboration will be made publicly available to researchers worldwide, free of charge.  
"We are excited to be collaborating with START on this extremely important, fundamentally different cancer genomic research," Yingrui Li, CEO of BGI Tech, said in a press release. "With SA1kCGP's world-class team of physicians and researchers, the leadership of START's Dr. Tony Tolcher and the scope and size of the project, we expect SA1kCGP to accelerate the development of new cancer diagnostics and therapies. SA1kCGP is unique as a privately funded project strategically structured to generate correlated, useful and accessible clinical and genomic cancer data that could lead to beneficial, targeted cancer treatments."  
At present, the SA1kCGP is performing whole-genome sequencing on cancerous and normal tissue and blood samples from patients with one of 10 cancers. Under this collaboration, BGI Tech will provide next-generation high-throughput genomic sequencing to identify mutations linked to certain cancers. BGI Tech will also gather, analyze and archive at BGI all genetic and clinical data generated through the sequencing and clinical analyses. START will be in charge of handling patient recruitment, tumor sample acquisition and collection of patient information.
SA1kCGP was launched in 2012 by START, and since then, the initiative has exceeded its original goal of collecting samples from 1,000 patients. To date, 1,200 patients have now agreed, to have their tumor tissues sampled and allow for their tumors to be transplanted into mouse models so that researchers can target genetic mutations. The initiative's budget is $5 million, with roughly $1 million raised to date through community donations. SA1kCGP now plans to sequence the cancer genomes of 10,000 patients for a fraction of the cost of other large- scale cancer genome projects. This undertaking brings together more than 200 cancer surgeons, pathologists, researchers and oncologists from hospitals in the San Antonio area, the majority of which work at community-based facilities where 90 percent of cancer care and clinical studies take place.
"Teaming with BGI Tech, with its broad array of sequencing technologies, deep bioinformatics expertise and extensive throughput capacity, will advance SA1kCGP to a whole new level," Dr. Anthony W. Tolcher, clinical director for START, commented in a statement. "As a privately funded effort, SA1kCGP depends upon the shared vision and commitment of community-based donors, and the profound role BGI will play in the project further elevates the potential benefits that can be achieved for cancer patients through these generous contributions."
SOURCE: BGI Tech press release
Code: E09121301

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