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CRUK Launches Nine Sequencing-based Cancer Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cancer Research UK has launched a new initiative to fund studies that use genome and exome sequencing to pursue answers to questions that have snagged the research community.

The Genomics Initiative, funded by a CRUK Catalyst Club campaign that will total £10 million ($13.5 million), will fund nine sequencing-based investigations into the molecular underpinnings of a range of cancer types.

“We urgently need new drugs to treat these rare but very aggressive forms of skin cancer. This project will let us build a bigger picture of the genes that are involved in the disease giving us an insight into the inner workings of skin cancer," Professor Richard Marais, a principal investigator on one of the projects at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said in a statement.

Professor Charles Swanton, another principal investigator and a researcher at CRUK's London Research Institute, said his research team will seek to discover why kidney cancer tumors have unique genetic defects in different areas of the tumor, and to find new markers that can predict who will benefit from certain targeted treatments.

“Attempts to identify markers to predict if patients with kidney cancer will respond to distinct targeted drugs have so far been unsuccessful," he said. "Our research is investigating whether this may result from the genetic variation within single tumors, such that an oncologist may not be able to fully trust the genomic information present in a single biopsy. We hope to be able to find markers for drug resistance that are common across multiple biopsies in the same tumor, that may guide the treating clinician to determine the right treatments are given to each patient," Swanton explained.

Other projects as part of the Genomics Initiative include a study led by Nazneen Rahman at the Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, that will conduct exome analysis of 1,000 individuals with familial breast cancer to identify new predisposition genes; a project led by Ian Tomlinson at the University of Oxford to identify predisposition genes for hyperplastic polypsis syndrome and colorectal cancer; research led by Jude Fitzgibbon at Queen Mary, University of London that will study the molecular basis of the transformation of follicular lymphoma to aggressive diffuse large B cell lymphoma; and a study led by Chris Jones at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, to sequence pediatric diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

Other studies include next-gen sequencing research of leukemia-related stem cells led by Dominique Bonnet of CRUK's London Research Institute; whole genome sequencing of pancreatic cancers to identify novel pathways and networks determining response to chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy led by John Neoptolemos at the University of Liverpool; and a study of melanoma in patients without phenotypic susceptibility headed by Tim Bishop at the University of Leeds.

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