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St. Jude and Washington University team to unravel genetic basis of childhood cancers
Date:1/25/2010

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, today announced an unprecedented effort to identify the genetic changes that give rise to some of the world's deadliest childhood cancers. The team has joined forces to decode the genomes of more than 600 childhood cancer patients treated at St. Jude, who have contributed tumor samples for this historic effort.

The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is the largest investment to dateestimated to cost $65 million over three yearsaimed at understanding the genetic origins of childhood cancers. Scientists involved in the project will sequence the entire genomes of both normal and cancer cells from each patient, comparing differences in the DNA to identify genetic mistakes that lead to cancer. Kay Jewelers, a long-standing supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has committed to providing $20 million as lead sponsor of this project.

"We are on the threshold of a revolution in our understanding of the origins of cancer. For the first time in history, we have the tools to identify all of the genetic abnormalities that turn a white blood cell into a leukemia cell or a brain cell into a brain tumor," said Dr. William E. Evans, St. Jude director and chief executive officer. "We believe it is from this foundation that advances for 21st century cancer diagnosis and treatment will come."

St. Jude is home to one of the world's largest and most complete repositories of biological information about childhood cancer. The collection dates to the 1970s and includes more than 50,000 tumor, bone marrow, blood and other biological samples. These samples are essential to efforts to understand the origins of cancer. The tissue bank has also helped St. Jude scientists develop the experimental models expected to be important for determining which mutations drive cancer's development and spread.
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Contact: Carrie Strehlau
carrie.strehlau@stjude.org
901-595-2295
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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