Getting personalized cancer genome analysis into the clinic: the challenges in bioinformatics

Genome Med. 2012 Jul 30;4(7):61. doi: 10.1186/gm362. eCollection 2012.


Progress in genomics has raised expectations in many fields, and particularly in personalized cancer research. The new technologies available make it possible to combine information about potential disease markers, altered function and accessible drug targets, which, coupled with pathological and medical information, will help produce more appropriate clinical decisions. The accessibility of such experimental techniques makes it all the more necessary to improve and adapt computational strategies to the new challenges. This review focuses on the critical issues associated with the standard pipeline, which includes: DNA sequencing analysis; analysis of mutations in coding regions; the study of genome rearrangements; extrapolating information on mutations to the functional and signaling level; and predicting the effects of therapies using mouse tumor models. We describe the possibilities, limitations and future challenges of current bioinformatics strategies for each of these issues. Furthermore, we emphasize the need for the collaboration between the bioinformaticians who implement the software and use the data resources, the computational biologists who develop the analytical methods, and the clinicians, the systems' end users and those ultimately responsible for taking medical decisions. Finally, the different steps in cancer genome analysis are illustrated through examples of applications in cancer genome analysis.

Publication types

  • Review