CCDI’s Molecular Characterization Initiative Releases First Data Set

The Childhood Cancer Data Initiative (CCDI) recently released the first data set (featuring DNA and RNA sequencing, methylation arrays, etc.) from the Molecular Characterization Initiative (MCI), which works closely with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG).

Authorization to access this valuable pediatric cancer data is available to the broader research community on the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP). Users can then access the data for analysis through the Seven Bridges’ Cancer Genomics Cloud, an NCI-funded platform that is part of the Cancer Research Data Commons.

The molecular characterization data will update periodically, and the clinical data will update twice a year. This consistently generated molecular data, paired with clinical data, helps broaden researchers’ ability to test hypotheses.

With this data, researchers can:

  • use the data to create better clinical trials.
  • learn about where and how childhood cancer starts.
  • accelerate the discovery of treatments.

A goal of CCDI and the MCI is a better understanding of cancer biology through enhanced data sharing methods. MCI shares the data with the patient’s treating physicians as well as the broader pediatric community. This new approach to data sharing helps improve diagnosis and treatment plans.

Dr. Subhashini Jagu, CBIIT’s Scientific Policy and Program Branch A chief, provides programmatic oversight and scientific expertise for CCDI. Dr. Jagu says, “MCI is the largest nationally supported effort to comprehensively sequence tumor tissue obtained at diagnosis. Patients receive access to state-of-the-art technology for accurate diagnoses. This effort also helps identify specific genetic differences in tumors. By identifying these deviations, we can better predict which currently approved or investigational drugs might be effective.”

Dr. Douglas Hawkins, group chair of the COG, says, “MCI offers the rapid return of comprehensive sequencing results to patients and treating physicians regardless of where participating children live. This increases equitable access to high quality testing. MCI is now open to children at COG institutions with newly diagnosed central nervous system tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, and a variety of rare tumors. The initiative can provide a more accurate diagnosis and suggest alternative treatment options.”

MCI uses the Institute for Genomic Medicine (IGM) Clinical Laboratory. IGM is a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified lab that does molecular characterization tests on samples from participants. These tests analyze the DNA and RNA in tumor and blood samples to learn about cancer at a molecular level. MCI then shares the diagnostic molecular profile with the patient and participant’s oncologist.

Dr. Elaine Mardis, co-executive director of IGM at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, says, “IGM is excited to partner with NCI and COG to produce clinical results for pediatric patients from comprehensive profiling. Having these data populate CCDI enables future discoveries that will improve pediatric cancer outcomes.”

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