More about the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project

Next-generation discoveries

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project has harnessed next-generation sequencing technology to advance our understanding of some of the most aggressive and poorly understood childhood cancers and to build the foundation for new, more targeted therapies.

Such sequencing involves determining the exact arrangement of all 3 billion-plus chemical bases of human DNA.

Cancer cells have changes in their DNA relative to normal cells. To identify these changes, the project has deciphered the complete cancer and normal genomes of about 700 pediatric cancer patients.

Comparing the two genomes from many patients with the same cancer has helped researchers identify genetic mistakes that give rise to different cancers, as well as the missteps that help to fuel its growth and spread. Scientists are already working to translate the discoveries into new ways to find and treat the disease.

“This project has generated more discoveries than we thought possible,” says James Downing, MD, the hospital’s scientific director and the project’s leader at St. Jude. “The data emerging are laying the groundwork for significant improvements in our ability to diagnose and ultimately treat pediatric cancer.”

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Abridged from Promise, Spring 2013