Learning About the Cancer Genome Atlas
A tweet from a former research colleague reminded me about the Cancer Genome Atlas, which I’d been meaning to check out. This website covers a project jointly funded by two NIH institutes: the NCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). The project is about documenting cancer genetics for many, many human tumors.
Some basics –
We all have genetic sequences we’re born with: our personal genomes. If you were to get your genome sequenced by a company, like 23andMe, they’d get some DNA from any of your cells or body fluid, and sequence your “somatic” or cellular genome. They would identify variants and mutations that you carry in the DNA of all or most of the cells in your body.
Cancer cells often contain genetic mutations that are not present in the patient’s healthy cells. So an individual’s breast cancer genome, for example, might differ from her baseline, inherited genome.
The purpose of the cancer genome project is to sequence DNA present in tumors samples so that researchers can identify specific, genetically distinct cancer forms and, eventually, develop smarter drugs that take aim at those tumor-specific mutations.
The site offers some cool, public-domain pathology and genetics images through a multimedia library. Good to know –