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BGI Tech, Texas Researchers Partner on Clinical Cancer Genome Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) − BGI Tech and South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics, START, are collaborating on a large-scale cancer genome project that aims to link tumor mutations to clinical outcome.

START launched the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project, or SA1kCGP, last year. The privately-funded study plans to sequence the tumors of 10,000 patients, representing 10 types of cancer, and has enrolled about 1,200 patients so far from hospitals in the San Antonio area. These patients will have their tumors sampled and transplanted to mouse models for drug-response analysis.

BGI Tech will provide genome sequencing services to identify mutations associated with specific cancers and will analyze and archive all genetic and clinical data. START is recruiting patients, acquiring tumor samples, and collecting clinical patient information.

All data generated by SA1kCGP will be made publicly and freely available to researchers and others.

"We are excited to be collaborating with START on this extremely important, fundamentally different cancer genomic research," Yingrui Li, CEO of BGI Tech, said in a statement.

"Teaming with BGI Tech, with its broad array of sequencing technologies, deep bioinformatics expertise, and extensive throughput capacity, will advance SA1kCGP to a whole new level," added Anthony Tolcher, clinical director for START.

SA1kCGP has a current budget of $5 million, of which about $1 million has been raised to date through community contributions alone.

According to the organizers, SA1kCGP stands out from other cancer genome projects in that it aims to link genomic and clinical information, including treatment and survival data, using START's electronic medical records and proprietary Clinical Synchrony software. In addition, most of the physicians and researchers participating in the project are based at local hospitals and community treatment centers, where 90 percent of cancer care happens, so the patient population enrolled in the study will represent typical cancer patients in the community.

Further, the study will use fresh rather than formaldehyde-preserved tissue, which will also be available for RNA and protein analyses, in addition to genome sequencing.