Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project
The Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project was made possible with major funding The Sol Golman Charitable Trust and The Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, and significant funding from The Lustgarten Foundation.
In 2007, The Lustgarten Foundation awarded a multi-million dollar focused research grant in support of the Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project. On September 4, 2008, lead investigator Bert Vogelstein, M.D. and his team at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center announced the Project's completion*. The prestigious journal Science designated the Project as among the top three 2008 "Breakthroughs of the Year."
Decoding the Blueprint for Pancreatic Cancer
Often labeled a ‘silent’ disease because symptoms appear without warning, pancreatic cancer results from a series of mutations in DNA. The Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project decoded the genetic blueprint of this cancer by characterizing the fundamental genetic components of the disease. The team sequenced more than 20,000 genes in a series of 24 well-characterized pancreatic cancers and discovered over 1,500 DNA mutations.
What We Learned
An average of 63 mutations was found in each cancer, supporting the growing body of evidence that cancer is fundamentally a disease caused by alterations in the DNA. Many of the mutations acted through a set of well-defined signaling pathways and processes. The team identified 12 core signaling pathways and processes that were each altered in more than two-thirds of the cancers. These 12 core pathways provide the basis for novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in pancreatic cancer. As a part of the study, the team also discovered more than 500 genes that were made at abnormally high levels in the 24 cancers. Fifty-four of these over expressed genes were predicted to be secreted or made on the surface of the cancer cells, suggesting that these genes may be useful therapeutic targets or may form the basis for new tests for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.
In His Own Words: Interviews with Dr. Vogelstein
Watch video interviews of Dr. Vogelstein discussing the Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project.
At the time of completion, this landmark study represented the most complete genetic analysis of any tumor type. The Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project has laid the groundwork for uncharted areas of pancreatic cancer investigation, and is serving as a steppingstone for future, large-scale studies that can be applied to broad-based populations.
*Results were reported in the September 5, 2008 issue of Science Express.