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The Cancer Genome Atlas 2020 Conference

  • 05 Dec 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The Minister of Science and Technology has virtually inaugurated the 2nd TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas) 2020 Conference in New Delhi.

  • The Conference brings together scientists and clinicians from across the globe to build Indian Cancer Genome Atlas (ICGA).

Key Points

  • Indian Cancer Genome Atlas (ICGA):
    • It aims to create indigenous, open-source and comprehensive database of molecular profiles of all cancers prevalent in Indian population.
    • Diverse molecular mechanisms including genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to cancer, posing significant challenges to treatment.
    • Therefore, it is necessary to better understand the underlying factors patient by patient.
  • About TCGA:
    • It is a landmark cancer genomics program that molecularly characterized over 20,000 primary cancer and matched normal samples spanning 33 cancer types.
      • Genomics aims to sequence, assemble, and analyse the structure and function of genomes.
      • Genome is all genetic material of an organism. It consists of DNA (or RNA in RNA viruses).
    • TCGA is a joint effort of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), which are both part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was started in 2006.
    • TCGA generated a huge amount of genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data.
      • Transcriptomics technologies are the techniques used to study an organism's transcriptome, the sum of all of its RNA transcripts.
      • A Proteome is a set of proteins produced in an organism.
    • This data has led to improvements in the ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer.
    • On similar lines, the establishment of an ‘Indian Cancer Genomics Atlas (ICGA)’ has been initiated by a consortium of key stakeholders in India led by Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research, Government of India in which several government agencies, cancer hospitals, academic institutions and private sector are partners.
  • Other Similar Missions:
    • Genome India:
      • Its aim is to ultimately build a grid of the Indian “reference genome”, to fully understand the type and nature of diseases and traits that comprise the diverse Indian population.
      • The mega project hopes to form a grid after collecting 10,000 samples in the first phase from across India, to arrive at a representative Indian genome.
    • IndiGen Genome Project:
      • The initiative was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.
      • The IndiGen programme aims to undertake whole genome sequencing of thousands of individuals representing diverse ethnic groups from India.


  • It is a large group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs. The latter process is called metastasizing and is a major cause of death from cancer.
  • A neoplasm and malignant tumor are other common names for cancer.
  • Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.
  • Government Initiative: National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) is being implemented under National Health Mission (NHM) for up-to the district level activities.


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