Clinical OMICS

MAY-JUN 2017

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 21 of 47

20 Clinical OMICs May/June 2017 Helen Albert, Contributing Editor The Power of One Narrowing focus to the single-cell genomics level targets cancer complexity on its own terms. T he potential of genomic sequencing technology to help in the fight against cancer was recognized at an early stage, with the first report of cancer genome sequencing in breast and colorectal tumors appearing in 2006, just five years after completion of the Human Genome Project. Since then, efforts such as the Cancer Genome Project in the U.K. and the Cancer Genome Atlas in the U.S., have collected genetic information about many differ- ent cancer types, helping to significantly increase knowledge of cancer genomics. The increased efficiency and rapid cost reduction of sequencing technology and analysis techniques over the same period has also contributed to the fast pace of development in the field. Cancer sequencing efforts to date have consistently demonstrated how genet- ically diverse tumors can be. This heterogeneity can make it difficult to discover which mutations trigger tumor development, complicating efforts to develop therapies that target specific mutations and to better understand drug resistance. Today, researchers are quickly adopting a relatively new method of cancer researcher, that has the promise to unlock the riddle of tumor heterogeneity—sin- gle-cell sequencing. Nicholas Navin, Ph.D., pioneered single-cell cancer genome sequencing while working on breast cancer cells in 2010. This work, published in Nature in 2011, transformed the field of cancer genomics. This approach allowed researchers to zoom in on individual cells within a given tumor and sequence their DNA. Paul Robson, Ph.D., director of Single Cell Genomics at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT explained the value of these techniques to Clinical Omics: "Single cell genomics…allows you to study the heterogeneity of cancer mutations and how they might evolve over time or in response to therapy. "Cells with different sets of mutations may respond differently to cancer drugs or may be more likely to give rise to metastatic cells. Understanding mutational features at single-cell resolution and how they behave in response to therapy

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