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Every patient’s cancer tells a unique genomic story

Three researchers talk about findings while sitting and standing around a conference table.

From left: Co-author David Wheeler, Ph.D., St. Jude Precision Genomics team director; co-corresponding author Kim Nichols, M.D., St. Jude Cancer Predisposition Division director; and co-corresponding author Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., St. Jude Department of Computational Biology chair, discovered how each patient's cancer cell tell a unique genomic story. 

Secrets are hidden in the DNA of even the most common childhood cancers.

Comprehensive clinical genomic sequencing can reveal these secrets. It can also change a patient’s diagnosis and treatment.

St. Jude scientists studied 309 patients with different cancers. The researchers decoded and analyzed genomic material from both tumors and normal cells.

The process involved sequencing their genomes, exomes and RNA. The genome represents all of the DNA in a cell, while the exome is the 2% of the genome that carries genes. Genes carry instructions for our proteins. RNA sequencing reveals the active genes.

Overall, 86% of patients had at least one finding mutation that could affect their care. For 1 in 5 patients, important mutations would not have been found without comprehensive sequencing.

“Some of the most clinically relevant findings were only possible because the study combined whole genome sequencing with whole exome and RNA sequencing,” said Jinghui Zhang, PhD, Computational Biology chair.

Cancer Discovery published a report on this work.

Read the News Release

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