As part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) pilot project, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today awarded eight two-year grants totaling $3.4 million to support the development of innovative technologies for exploring the genomic underpinnings of cancer.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), both part of NIH, announced the TCGA pilot in December 2005 to test the feasibility of a large-scale, systematic approach to identifying the changes that occur in the genomes of cancer cells. The goal is to generate genomic information that the research community can use to develop new and improved strategies for detecting, treating and, ultimately, preventing cancer.
The types of tumors being studied in the pilot include brain cancer (glioblastoma), ovarian cancer and lung cancer (squamous cell), which together account for more than 200,000 cases of cancer in the United States each year.
In addition to the detailed genomic data it will generate, there is great hope that TCGA will both advance technological development and drive down its cost, said NCI Director John E. Niederhuber, M.D. Our greatest challenge will be in applying the volumes of information TCGA will provide about tumors to the genomic data NCI is gathering from large cohorts of patients, in order to better predict, and even prevent, the earliest development of cancer.
Cancer poses a very complex challenge. Each of the dozens of types of cancer likely will have a different genomic profile or set of profiles. We urgently need tools equal to this task, said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., whose institute led the NIH component of the Human Genome Project. One of the major lessons we learned from the Human Genome Project is that technology development is essential for success.
The institutions and principal investigators chosen to receive the two-year grants are: