The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have launched a comprehensive effort to accelerate our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of genome analysis technologies, especially large-scale genome sequencing. The overall effort, called The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), will begin with a pilot project to determine the feasibility of a full-scale effort to systematically explore the universe of genomic changes involved in all types of human cancer.
“Now is the time to move forward with this pioneering initiative. Thanks to the tools and technologies developed by the Human Genome Project and recent advances in using genetic information to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment, it is now possible to envision a systematic effort to map the changes in the human genetic blueprint associated with all known forms of cancer,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, md. “This atlas of genomic changes will provide new insights into the biological basis of cancer, which in turn will lead to new tests to detect cancer in its early, most treatable stages; new therapies to target cancer at its most vulnerable points; and, ultimately, new strategies to prevent cancer.”