London: Scientists have completed a detailed analysis of genomic changes in ovarian cancer, which will help better understand the biology of the dreaded disease and improve diagnosis and treatment of it.
The analysis has provided the most comprehensive and integrated view of cancer genes for any cancer type to date.
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network examined ovarian serous adenocarcinoma tumors from 500 patients.
Serous adenocarcinoma is the most prevalent form of ovarian cancer, accounting for about 85 percent of all ovarian cancer deaths.
TCGA researchers completed whole-exome sequencing, which examines the protein-coding regions of the genome, on an unprecedented 316 tumors.
They also completed other genomic characterizations on these tumors and another 173 specimens.
“This landmark study is producing impressive insights into the biology of this type of cancer,” NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D, said.
“It will significantly empower the cancer research community to make additional discoveries that will help us treat women with this deadly disease. It also illustrates the power of what’s to come from our investment in TCGA,” he added.
Among the specific findings is the confirmation that mutations in a single gene, TP53, are present in more than 96 percent of all such cancers.
In addition, TCGA identified a multitude of less-frequent mutations in other genes.
TCGA researchers also established how sets of genes are expressed in a fashion that can predict patient survival, identifying patterns for 108 genes associated with poor survival and 85 genes associated with better survival.
The findings were reported in the June 30, 2011, issue of Nature.