The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), both parts of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have announced new details of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Pilot Project, a $100 million collaborative initiative intended to assess the feasibility of using large-scale genome analysis technologies to identify important genetic changes involved in cancer (see previous news story). The project will be studying lung, brain (glioblastoma), and ovarian cancers.

A network of seven newly selected Cancer Genome Characterization Centers (CGCCs) will use advanced genome analysis technologies to identify major changes in the genomes of the cancers chosen (see press release). In addition, a Data Coordinating Center (DCC) to track, check and make publicly accessible data produced by the TCGA has been established, along with a Biospecimen Core Resource (BCR); genome sequencing centres have yet to be selected.

NCI Deputy Director for Advanced Technologies and Strategic Partnerships Dr Anna Barker said: TCGA will analyze genomic changes in lung, brain, and ovarian cancers with a goal of identifying all alterations in genes for these three tumors - especially those that can serve to differentiate cancer subtypes. The Cancer Genome Characterization Centers will identify genomic aberrations, such as copy number changes and/or chromosomal translocations that will enable the development of targeted diagnostics and therapies for cancer patients, and provide a path to more personalized cancer medicine.