New large dataset in cancer genomics

The large dataset was created by Dutch scientists and clinicians in a collaboration between 41 facilities. Fine needle biopsies of cancer tissues and samples of normal tissues were collected from 2,7 thousand patients. High quality whole-genome sequencing provided details about genetics of metastasis in 2,4 thousand patients.

Authors provide basic summary statistics, divided to types of mutations and types of cancer. They show surprisingly high rate of whole-genome doubling in metastatic tumors – 56% in all samples, in contrast to previous assessments near 30%. Apart from that, the results are consistent with previous publications.

Genomes of metastatic cancers were found to be similar to genomes of primary cancers. There were no specific mutations or changes, that would statistically distinguish the original lesion from cancer cells in other parts in the body. Some scientists conclude:

The genetic model of metastasis has been exhausted.

Julio A. Aguirre-Ghiso

Scientists behind the study tried to use sequencing results in guidance of oncologic patients. In a precision-oncology approach, they enrolled 215 patients and assigned unapproved drugs. After treatment, 34% individuals responded in any way.

The study and the dataset are publicly available here.

Main publication: Priestley, P., Baber, J., Lolkema, M. P., Steeghs, N., de Bruijn, E., Shale, C., … & Roepman, P. (2019). Pan-cancer whole-genome analyses of metastatic solid tumours. Nature, 1-7.
Precision-oncology publication: van der Velden, D. L., Hoes, L. R., van der Wijngaart, H., van Berge Henegouwen, J. M., van Werkhoven, E., Roepman, P., … & Nederlof, P. M. (2019). The Drug Rediscovery protocol facilitates the expanded use of existing anticancer drugs. Nature, 1-5.

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