Researchers at the International Congress of Human Genetics meeting in Montreal, Quebec, gave an update this morning on the status of some International Cancer Genome Consortium projects, particularly those on pancreatic, oral, and stomach cancer. New sequencing technologies have spurred the ICGC to sequence about 500 tumor varieties to try to find genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptomic changes that occur in those cancers. "It is relatively simple to think about doing cancer genomics," said session chair Tom Hudson from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. There are now 17,000 consenting donors for ICGC projects, and data from about 2,000 of those maybe found on the consortium's Web site.
Two speakers during the session touched on difficulties facing researchers in sequencing pancreatic cancer samples. One problem is that pancreatic tumor samples often include a fair amount of normal tissue, due to the characteristics of the tumor. However, the Broad Institute's Stacey Gabriel and her colleagues at The Cancer Genome Atlas showed that deep sequencing of such mixed samples could pick up pancreatic cancer mutations. Alternatively, John McPherson at OICR has used different enrichment approaches to increase the amount of usable tumor, also with some success.