The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA)—a comprehensive and coordinated effort to accelerate understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of genome analysis technologies, supported by the National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute—recently published its results on its research sequencing the genomic landscapes of 33 different tumor types in a project called the Pan-Cancer Atlas.
Specifically, this research analyzed over 11,000 tumors from 33 of the most prevalent forms of cancer with the goal of understanding how, where, and why tumors develop in humans in order to create a comprehensive resource for the development of new, more precise treatments in oncology.
As a contract research organization specializing in smart solutions for preclinical development, we at Noble Life Sciences are intrigued by the Pan-Cancer Atlas study. Let’s take a look at the results of the study and what it means for the future of oncology treatments.
Tumors as an Ecosystem
TCGA explained that their comprehensive research was done with the intent to understand tumors as an ecosystem. In this case, the ecosystem analogy is accurate: the results go beyond cataloging genomic alterations by giving unique insights into the interplay between different somatic and germline mutations, how specific mutations react on unique cell types, and how the tumor and its microenvironment interact.
Specifically, TCGA has reported new findings on almost 300 driver mutations, including nearly 60 entirely new driver genes. Their research sheds light on the interrelationship between mutations and and locations. In fact, more than one quarter of the driver genes identified are important in more than one type of cancer.
By examining gene clusters that were active in cells with shared driver mutations, researchers discovered that the origin cell is an important determinant of tumor behavior. Notably, cells with the same developmental roots that end up in different organs (e.g., cancerous squamous cells manifesting as tumors in the kidneys or throat) will behave in similar ways and respond similarly to treatments despite being in different anatomical locations.
Looking to the Future
With these insights, oncologists will be able to design more thoughtful and comprehensive strategies for more effective and precise cancer treatment options. In fact, this focus on single-cell sequencing has increased the number of opportunities for in depth tumor research—essentially laying the foundation for future treatments.
Noble’s biobank resource containing DNA and protein from each cell line is then used to confirm the drug-biomarker correlations that were discovered in the cell panel screen. These studies provide an understanding of the expression status of the target and molecular pathway in the selected model; determination of the active plasma concentrations of the drug; modulation of the downstream pathway in which the target functions; and assessment of the therapeutic index.
By examining the response of a broad spectrum of validated DNA and protein-based biomarkers to therapeutics, we deliver data that enable you to make more confident decisions. Contact us today for more information on our oncology research services.