Genetic Future

Over at PolITiGenomics, Washington University’s David Dooling discusses his work as part of the Tumor Sequencing Project. The TSP and a variety of other groups (like The Cancer Genome Atlas) are using large-scale sequencing to create comprehensive maps of the genetic changes that underlie cancer formation.

The cancer genome sequencing community have already made impressive headway – Dooling notes two papers in this week’s edition of Nature, one from the TSP on lung adenocarcinoma, and another from The Cancer Genome Atlas on glioblastoma (which received extensive media attention when it was published online back in early September).

It’s worth noting that both studies relied heavily on old-school sequencing technology to generate their data, and focused their attention on sets of candidate genes with an a priori probability of being involved in cancer formation. This really emphasises the long time delay between data generation and publication: as Dooling notes, the TSP has been applying next-generation sequencing methods to generate whole-genome data for the last year and a half, while TCGA is doing the same thing on an even larger scale. In other words, many of the methods described in these two papers have been largely obsolete for over a year – but such is life in the fast-moving field of genomics.