BETHESDA, MarylandThe National Cancer Institute (NCI) has begun the largest, most comprehensive effort to identify genetic risk factors for two major cancers, a 3-year initiative aimed at deciphering which genetic alterations put people at increased risk of developing breast and prostate cancer. The program, Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS), will engage NCI and outside scientists in scanning the entire human genome to identify common, inherited gene mutations that heighten the risk of developing the two cancers.
NCI has designed the $14 million program to capitalize on new insights into human genetic variation and to take advantage of technical advancements in ultrahigh-throughput genotyping. It will start by screening 2,500 samples obtained from normal men and men diagnosed with prostate cancer to determine which of the more than 550,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) the most common type of genetic variations that occur in humansare related to prostate cancer. Illumina, Inc., of San Diego, will do the rapid genotyping. "The project promises to provide a needed database to support the development of novel strategies for the early detection and prevention of these diseases," said Anna D. Barker, PhD, NCI's deputy director.