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START to team up with China’s BGI Tech on San Antonio cancer genome project
September 12, 2013

W. Scott Bailey, San Antonio Business Journal

BGI Tech Solutions Co. LTD, a subsidiary of BGI, the world's largest genomics research organization, has agreed to work with South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics (START) on the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project.

The ground-breaking cancer genome study is designed to link genetic alterations that underlie different cancers to detailed clinical outcomes. Such findings could enable scientists to pursue the development of targeted, personalized cancer treatments.

Participants in the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project (SA1kCGP) are presently conducting whole genome sequencing of cancerous and normal tissue and blood samples from patients with one of 10 cancers. BGI Tech will bring next-generation high-throughput genomic sequencing to the project to help identify mutations associated with specific cancers. BGI Tech will also gather, analyze and archive all genetic and clinical data generated through the tumor sequencing and clinical analyses.

San Antonio-based START, which initiated the cancer genome project, will conduct patient recruitment, tumor sample acquisition and collection of clinical patient information.

"Teaming with BGI Tech, with its broad array of sequencing technologies, deep bioinformatics expertise and extensive throughput capacity, will advance SA1kCGP to a whole new level," says Dr. Anthony W. Tolcher, clinical director for START. "As a privately funded effort, SA1kCGP depends upon the shared vision and commitment of community-based donors, and the profound role BGI will play in the project further elevates the potential benefits that can be achieved for cancer patients through these generous contributions."

I reported in January 2012 that START was preparing to launch the massive cancer genome project.

"This is a monumental task, involving a large number of people, and it's never been done before," Tolcher told me then. "We think we can do something that no one else can."

But project officials were clear from the beginning that there would need to be large-scale collaboration for the project to be a success.

"We are excited to be collaborating with START on this extremely important, fundamentally different cancer genomic research," says BGI Tech CEO Yingrui Li. "With SA1kCGP's world-class team of physicians and researchers, the leadership of START's Tolcher, and the scope and size of the project, we expect SA1kCGP to accelerate the development of new cancer diagnostics and therapies."

BGI Tech is based in Shenzhen, China, and has more than 1,500 employees.


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