The NCI awarded grants to the University of North Carolina (UNC), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center under its Cancer Genome Atlas pilot project. These institutions were among seven that were awarded a combined $35 million over three years in NCI grants as Cancer Genome Characterization Centers (CGCC) that are designed to implement the Atlas project.
All three institutions will rely on Agilent’s genomics solution, comprising microarrays, reagents, hardware, and data-analysis tools. As part of the NCI initiative, each CGCC is expected to process a minimum of 1,000 clinical samples per year.
The CGCC initiative emphasizes high-throughput, high-resolution technologies to detect comprehensively genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptome aberrations, including alterations in DNA segment copy numbers, translocations, loss of heterozygosity, altered DNA methylation patterns and changes in gene expression, all of which may play a role in cancer. The pilot project will explore the benefits of a systematic approach for analyzing specific types and subtypes of tumors.
“The University of North Carolina group, based in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will perform genome-wide gene expression profiling and microRNA expression profiling, both using Agilent DNA oligo microarrays,” explains Charles M. Perou, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of genetics. “The UNC group chose the Agilent platform because of its flexibility in gene content, which allows researchers to change any feature or gene at any time. As new genes, microRNAs or gene splice forms are discovered, they can easily and seamlessly be included into the next phase of microarrays.