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Founding of an International Cancer Genome Consortium for medicine: Scientists combine data from cancer genome with information on disease progression

No. 17c2 | 20/04/2016 | by Sel

During the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, members of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) announced their entering of a new phase: The ICGCmed now combine data from cancer genome with information on disease progression. The objective of this initiative is to make optimal use of the consolidated information for prevention, early detection, diagnostics, prognosis and tailor-made cancer therapies.

© US Department of Energy Human Genome Program Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 2008, the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) has now cross-referenced the genetic data of around 18000 cancer patients with approx. 50 different types of cancer. “We found a very high number of gene alterations in various cancer types,” explains Fabien Calvo, Chief Scientific Officer of Cancer Core Europe and main author of the ICGCmed proposal. “We have now determined data from a large number of patients all diagnosed with the same type of cancer. We combined these data with the genome information from cancer cells as well as the individual course of the disease. We hope to be able to find out how genetic alterations influence the response to treatment and emergence of resistance. Our ultimate goal is to be able to offer each patient a personalized therapy for their individual type of disease.”

“The worldwide cooperation of the institutions involved has been excellent and the sharing of data between scientists has been the basis for the ICGC's success”, says Peter Lichter, one of the founding members of the ICGC and working at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. He goes on to explain: “The ICGCmed will now continue along this successful path, and use all the data acquired for the benefit of patients.

The information that we obtained from the analysis of genetic mutations in cancer cells has opened new paths for precision oncology. It would certainly be extremely useful for those in daily clinical practice to have more information on which medication has already been successful and for which genetic mutations in which type of cancer. It is one of the aims of ICGCmed to gather knowledge across the globe and make a significant contribution to translating this cancer genome information into clinical treatment options.”

Scientists wanting to use the ICGC data have to agree to strict data protection guidelines to safeguard the privacy of patients. The original ICGC project is scheduled for completion in 2018. By then, the genome data of 25000 cancer patients with 50 different cancer types should be available.

The German part of the ICGC was generously supported by German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe) and the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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