As genetic testing for predisposition to human diseases has become an increasingly common practice in medicine, the need for clear interpretation of the test results is apparent. However, for many disease genes, including the breast cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, a significant fraction of tests results in the detection of a genetic variant for which disease association is not known. The finding of an "unclassified" variant (UV)/variant of uncertain significance (VUS) complicates genetic test reporting and counseling. As these variants are individually rare, a large collaboration of researchers and clinicians will facilitate studies to assess their association with cancer predisposition. It was with this in mind that the ENIGMA consortium (www.enigmaconsortium.org) was initiated in 2009. The membership is both international and interdisciplinary, and currently includes more than 100 research scientists and clinicians from 19 countries. Within ENIGMA, there are presently six working groups focused on the following topics: analysis, clinical, database, functional, tumor histopathology, and mRNA splicing. ENIGMA provides a mechanism to pool resources, exchange methods and data, and coordinately develop and apply algorithms for classification of variants in BRCA1 and BRCA2. It is envisaged that the research and clinical application of models developed by ENIGMA will be relevant to the interpretation of sequence variants in other disease genes.
© 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.