Cancer research in Finland is recognised as exceptionally high-quality. The field has an ambitious long-term target: to render meaningless the disease that is cancer through state-of-the-art gene technology and collaboration among leading experts from several disciplines.
Cancer is a disease involving two unique genomes ‒ germline and that of the respective tumor. The rapid advances in genomic technologies are now enabling full genome analysis of individuals and cancers. The CoE is conducting genome-wide analyses in lines of research that are believed to hold the greatest promise. This is generating vast quantities of data as work is being done on up to a thousand samples at the same time.
At the CoE, this data flow is managed at two stages. First, using the tools of computer science, the unit performs sophisticated sequence analyses, sorting millions of sequence reads into an optimal order. This allows the researchers to identify real differences between samples from the background noise. Next, the systems biologists at the CoE set to work to find out which part of the variation has to do with tumour predisposition. Once the researchers have found an impression, they conduct searches in the Finnish Cancer Register in order to identify other similar patients.
If these studies uncover gene mutations that explain hereditary tumour susceptibility, the researchers will have at their disposal a predictive test. This will allow them to translate the findings into clinical tools to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.
Academy Professor Lauri Aaltonen
University of Helsinki
tel. +358 9 191 25595
Sites of research: University of Helsinki, Finnish Cancer Register