Q&A: Understanding our Cancer Genomics Laboratory Moon Shot platform

MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™ is designed to reduce the time it takes to move promising cancer discoveries into the clinic, where they can help patients the most. The program focuses resources around 13 cancer types, called Moon Shots™, with the goal of using the knowledge we gain to advance treatment of all types of cancer. But how do researchers make cancer discoveries? And how do they know which discoveries are the most likely to have a major impact for patients? That’s where the Moon Shots Program’s Cancer Genomics Laboratory platform comes in. We spoke with Maggi Morgan, scientific manager, to learn more about the platform and how it impacts cancer research and treatment. Here’s what she had to say. What is the Cancer Genomics Laboratory? The Cancer Genomics Laboratory platform is a research lab that drives discovery and understanding of how tumors grow, spread and evolve. Our team provides researchers with data that may, in the future, guide personalized cancer treatment strategies and has the potential to make a significant impact on the detection, management and treatment of cancer. What is genomics, and how is it used in cancer research? Your complete set of DNA is called your genome. Almost every cell in your body, including a cancer cell, contains a copy of the 3 billion DNA base pairs, or letters (A, T, G and C), which string together to make up the genome. Genomics is the detailed study of these sequences of DNA that make up the genome. Cancer is caused by small changes in sequences of DNA. These changes are called mutations, which accumulate over time...