Strategic Communication and Public Relations

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).

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are 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 all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Tumour Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

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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