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How sweet it is: PeCanPIE serves up cancer variants

Memphis, Tennessee, September 5, 2019

Michael Edmonson and Aman Patel were key architects in creating PeCanPIE, a data portal that narrows down millions of genetic variations to find the few that may predispose a child to have cancer.

Michael Edmonson and Aman Patel, first authors of the Genome Research study and team leaders on the development of PeCanPIE, discuss different ways the portal narrows down the genetic variations in a single patient.

St. Jude scientists have developed a free, online system for cancer researchers and clinicians worldwide. This system sifts through millions of genetic variations in a patient’s genome to find those involved in inherited cancers.

Pediatric Cancer Variant Pathogenicity Information Exchange, or PeCanPIE, can also help scientists find variants related to ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Scientists will soon use the system to find other disorders that are passed through families.

“Cancer researchers and oncologists have faced a massive challenge since the invention of gene sequencing technologies that can yield four million genetic variations in a single patient’s genome,” said Jinghui Zhang, PhD, Computational Biology chair. “We developed PeCanPIE to help find the few that predispose a patient to cancer.”

A report on this work appeared in Genome Research.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit, read St. Jude Progress, a digital magazine, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.