Researchers at the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) last week proposed a project called ‘The 10K Concept’ that would sequence 10,000 tumour genomes for each type of common cancer.

The proposal was one of several presented at a meeting of the NCI’s Board of Scientific Advisors convened to discuss potential follow-up projects to the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, which is scheduled for completion next year.

TCGA sequenced around 500 tumour samples for each of 20 common cancer types, and was able to confirm many previously known or suspected cancer risk genes as well as identifying a number of new ones for a variety of cancers, most recently for breast cancer (see previous news).

The 10K Concept would expand on this work, having greater statistical power – sufficient to identify mutations that occur in only 1% of tumours – and, unlike TCGA, would also attempt to associate genomic factors with an individual’s lifestyle and clinical outcomes, in the style of biobank projects. It includes a proposal to minimise costs by utilising tumour samples collected and preserved from other studies.

Some of the advisory board members voiced doubts however about the scientific and clinical utility of the proposal, citing “diminishing returns” from up-scaling work already carried out by TCGA. The 10K Concept is one of several proposals that were put before the advisory board for consideration, and at this stage remains just a concept.

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