Introduced this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2019, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital shared the availability of real-time clinical whole-genome, exome and transcriptome data over St. Jude Cloud to accelerate precision medicine research for pediatric cancer. Founded in 1962, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for children only.
Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in collaboration with Microsoft and DNAnexus, developed St. Jude Cloud—the world’s largest public repository of pediatric genomics data with over 10,000 whole genomes from pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases. Launched last year, today over 450 institutions in 16 countries globally have used St. Jude Cloud for research purposes. Moreover, St. Jude covers the costs of treatment, travel, housing and food for its patients.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in children between the ages of five through 14 years in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Leukemia, Lymphoma, brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors are the most common cancer found in those under the age of 14 years according to the National Cancer Institute (NIH).
Chemotherapy (chemo), the use of drugs to treat diseases, is one of the most common forms of cancer treatment. When it comes to chemotherapy for cancer, there are two types: standard and targeted. Standard chemo indiscriminately attacks both cancer and healthy cells. In contrast, targeted cancer therapy is designed to aim at specific molecular targets associated with the cancer. Targeted chemo is a form of precision medicine. Precision oncology is the applying precision medicine to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. The key to precision oncology is to identify the specific molecules that contributes to the cancer’s growth and spread.
“Access to high-quality clinical genomic data will help further research in precision medicine for childhood cancer and other diseases,” stated Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., chair of the St. Jude Department of Computational Biology in a May 28, 2019 news release. “By releasing whole-genome sequencing data from St. Jude in the cloud, St. Jude offers researchers and clinicians around the world the opportunity to explore the data and make novel discoveries leading to more cures faster.”
With patient consent, St. Jude includes whole-genome sequencing into clinical genomic testing. Whole-genome sequencing maps the exact order of the three billion chemical bases that make up human DNA. In a study published in Nature Communications in September 2018, St. Jude researchers demonstrated that a three-platform sequencing offers many advantages over the existing Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) based clinical sequencing workflows.
According to a St. Jude report in October 2018, the study revealed the “critical need” for whole genome sequencing for pediatric cancer patients—testing that included “all three next-generation sequencing methods detected 99 percent of known or suspected cancer-causing mutations compared to 78 percent of mutations from tests with whole exome and whole transcriptome alone.”
“Instead of doing it the way we always have: identify the patients of interest, gather the samples, sequence them, make a discovery, write the paper, and then make the data available, which can take years, we’ve turned the whole thing around: Our clinical genomics service generates the data soon after the patient arrives at the hospital,” stated Scott Newman, PhD, group lead for bioinformatics analysis working on the St. Jude Cloud in a June 2, 2019 St. Jude news report. “We use the genetic findings to help pathologists and oncologists better diagnose and treat the tumors, then we release it on St. Jude Cloud for any academic researcher to use in their study.”
Copyright © 2019 Cami Rosso All rights reserved.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (2019, May 28). St. Jude Cloud to accelerate scientific discoveries through access to real-time clinical genome sequencing data [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.stjude.org/media-resources/news-releases/2019-medicine-science-news/st-jude-cloud-to-provide-access-to-real-time-clinical-genome-sequencing-data.html
Whittington, Elizabeth. “Researchers introduce real-time clinical genomics data using St. Jude Cloud platform at 2019 ASCO annual meeting.” St. Jude Progress. June 2, 2019