Project to study genetic origins of childhood cancers

1 February 2010

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has joined with Washington University School of Medicine in a new US project to unravel the genetic origins of childhood cancers. The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project will compare whole genome sequences from normal and cancer cell samples from more than 600 children with cancers, particularly childhood leukaemias, brain tumours and sarcomas (a group of cancers that affect the bone, muscle and other connective tissues).

It is thought that the initiative, which is projected cost US$65 million over three years, will identify specific genetic abnormalities quite different from those found in adult cancers. Researchers will also look at the influence of other genetic variation, including epigenetic changes, on cancer progression and seek to identify genetic markers that may predict outcome and help direct optimal treatment. Ultimately it is hoped that improved understanding of the underlying genetics will also lead to new methods of diagnosis, treatment or even prevention (see press release).

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