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McGill plays important role in new global cancer-research network

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Published: 15 Apr 2010

International Cancer Genome Consortium plans to sequence 25,000 cancer genomes

International Cancer Genome Consortium plans to sequence 25,000 cancer genomes

A new network was announced today by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), and Dr. Bartha Knoppers, Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy (CGP) located within the McGill University/Genome Quebec Innovation Centre, will occupy a key role.

The network will decode the genomes from 25,000 cancer samples and create a resource of freely available data that will help cancer researchers around the world. Spanning the European Union, Asia, India and North America, the network's researchers will examine more than 10,000 tumors for cancer types affecting a diversity of organs including blood, brain, breast, colon, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach, oral cavity and ovary.

Once thought of as a single disease, cancer is now understood to be the result of genetic mutations in cells that disrupt normal functions leading to uncontrollable growth. Because mutations are often specific to a particular type or stage of cancer, systematically mapping the changes that occur in each cancer could provide the foundation for research to identify new therapies, diagnostics and preventive strategies. For this project, research at McGill, like that across the country, will focus on pancreatic cancer.

Knoppers is the Chair of the Ethics and Policy Committee of the IGCC and a member of the Data Access Oversight Committee. She explains that in addition to contributing to this essential decoding work, the CGP will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the ICGC's data-access policy, since it houses the Data Access Compliance Office. It will, in other words, vet all requests for access to the data resulting from this crucial collaboration.

"I am pleased we have this excellent opportunity to support and safeguard such key research," said Knoppers.

On the Web: http://www.icgc.org

http://www.genomicsandpolicy.org

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