International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC)

In April 2008, leading international teams of scientists announced the formation of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) with the aim of generating high quality genomic data from over fifty tumour types over the next decade, to aid in the search for the genetic mechanisms that lie behind the development of cancer.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute was among the key leaders in the inception of the project, building on the success of its Cancer Genome Project headed by Professor Mike Stratton FRS. The Consortium currently comprises research teams from Australia, Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, with more teams from Europe and other nations still expected to join. The role of the ICGC is to facilitate transfer of information and maximise each centre's contribution to the core dataset.

In November 2008, eleven teams funded by eight different research organisations committed to the ICGC to study eight different tumour types. Each team is sequencing individual tumour samples from over 500 patients with each type of cancer. The vast quantity of data will provide important information into the genetic changes that drive the development of each specific cancer type, and the common pathways that may be involved between different cancers. Common standards for informed consent and ethical oversight, and data collection and analysis, were agreed at the inception of the project to boost efficiency of sample acquisition and data production, and results will be made rapidly and freely available to the global scientific research community for maximum public benefit.

The ICGC extends an invitation to international research organisations to participate in this ambitious biomedical sequencing project, focusing on and prioritising those cancer types that currently have the greatest impact on society, that are the most scientifically informative and that are currently most amenable to study in terms of sample availability. Professor Stratton continues to drive progress and delivery of results from the Consortium, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute will provide regular updates on the progress of the ongoing projects during the active phase. "We have made remarkable progress in developing the funding and scientific vision of the ICGC since its launch in April 2008 with funding agencies around the globe now committed to supporting projects on breast cancer, liver cancer, gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer and leukaemia with others in the pipeline," he said. "That vision, allied with extraordinary advances in technology, means we are already gaining exciting new insights into cancer genomes and the abnormal genes that are driving them."

For more information, please visit the International Cancer Genome Consortium website

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