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After the Cancer Genome Atlas

The Cancer Genome Atlas is set to finish up next year after sequencing some 10,000 samples from about 20 different cancer types. TCGA has found, ScienceInsider notes, a number of new cancer genes and confirmed others that were previously identified. But with its price tag reaching over $375 million, some critics say it has been too expensive, though many disagree.

At a National Cancer Institute meeting earlier this week, Louis Staudt and Stephen Chanock discussed what could be a next step — by sequencing even more samples, say 10,000 per tumor type, researchers could uncover rare variants contributing to the disease, ScienceInsider adds. Further, it could enable studies examining the interplay of genetics and environmental factors.

However, with the agency facing a 5 percent budget cut, such a grand project might not be realized. ScienceInsider also notes that some skeptics said that the project might reach a level of "diminishing returns." According to ScienceInsider Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Bruce Stillman noted that he is a supporter of TCGA, but that taking it to such a new scale "is not very sensible at the moment."