The study follows a major report last year that announced the discovery of 200 genes linked to breast and colon cancers. This second report completes the study of the vast majority of protein-coding genes and catalogs the genetic changes that occur during tumorigenesis. Three Agencourt individuals – James Hartigan, Douglas R. Smith and Erick Suh – were among the authors of the study, "The Genomic Landscape of Human Breast and Colorectal Cancers," published in Science Express last week.
All of the sequencing work and data generation for the study were done by Agencourt’s Genomic Services, which has a long-standing relationship with the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists.
According to a news release issued by the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, scientists involved in the study found that most cancer-causing gene mutations are quite diverse and can vary from person to person. Of the 70 to 80 genes that are mutated in an individual cancer, about 15 are likely to contribute to the cancer’s key characteristics, and most of these genes are different for each patient.
With no more higher-frequency mutations (such as p53) on the horizon, researchers can focus on these less-commonly mutated genes and the complicated protein pathways that link them. Personalized cancer genomic research paves the way for tailored therapies and diagnostics focusing on the alterations identified in a particular patient's cancer.
"The research findings have important implications in the development of personal genomics, including molecular diagnostic tests, which are of great interest to Beckman Coulter," commented Erick Suh, Genomic Services director for Agencourt. "As the leading provider of DNA sequencing services, we have developed strong relationships with leading cancer research teams such as Johns Hopkins and are proud to contribute to these scientific advancements."