The Wellcome Trust is to fund a £10m Cancer Genome Project to detect genes that are mutated in human cancers and release that information to a public database. The project will be based at the Sanger Centre near Cambridge which forms a part of the international Human Genome Project - a third of the cost of which the Wellcome Trust is providing. The new cancer project will be able to use sequence information that is being generated on the site as the basis for screening genomes for the mutations underlying oncogensis.
The Cancer Genome Project is 'one of the first next step post-genome projects', said Mike Dextor, director of the Wellcome Trust. 'Although it will focus on cancer-related genes, it will also act as a proof of concept for ideas that can be applied to most, if not all, polygenic diseases'. The project will be led by Professor Michael Stratten and Dr Richard Wooster of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) who led the team that discovered the BRCA2 breast cancer gene. 'The data emerging from the Human Genome Project will give us the normal blueprint against which we can then compare the DNA sequence in cancers and so work out which genes are abnormal,' said Professor Stratten. 'Ultimately, identification of these genes will highlight the weak points in cancer cells with which we can interfere and treat the disease'.
Additional funding of, at least initially, £1m is being provided from the ICR and further funding is being sought.
Sources and References
Cancer Genome Project
Cancer genome project launched
Venter's Drosophila 'success' set to boost human genome efforts