Study of Family COsegregation of Nucleotide VARiants in the Panel of Genes to Validate Their Use in Genetic Counseling (COVAR)

  • End date
    Oct 19, 2028
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Institut Curie
Updated on 19 September 2022
breast cancer
cancer of the ovary


The aim of the COVAR project is to classify reliably a maximum of VUS of the French database in order to use them for the genetic counseling. The results obtained through this study will have a major impact on clinical management of the patients and their families conducting in some cases to propose a prophylactic surgery.


Originally, the COVAR study was designed to explore Variants of unknown biological significance (VUS) in BRCA1 (BReast Cancer 1) and BRCA2 (BReast Cancer 2) genes, which are the two major genes identified in hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancers. Since then the study has evolved, in parallel with the evolution of diagnosis, first introducing the PALB2 (Partner and localizer of BRCA2) gene explored in diagnosis since 2015 and now opening the study to all the genes of the panels performed in diagnosis in families with a genetic predisposition syndrome to cancers.

The French UMD (Universal Mutation Database)-BRCA1/2, accredited by the French National Cancer Institute, collects anonymous results of genetic tests performed by authorized French laboratories since 1995, giving a real-time vision of families carrying the same VUS. In september 2011, the French UMD-BRCA1/2 database comprised 706 different variants in 1,300 BRCA1 families and 1,089 different variants in 2,101 BRCA2 families. In April 2021, this database contained 1,651 different VSU for BRCA1, 3,015 different VUS for BRCA2, 471 different VUS for PALB2, 68 for RAD51C and 66 for RAD51D.

Since 2017, new genes have been explored in the diagnostic setting as they have been reported as predisposing factors for cancers. This list is constantly evolving (Moretta et al., 2018; Dhooge et al., 2020). Data collection for these genes is ongoing and a new database (FrOG) gathering all VUS and mutations identified in the French oncogenetic network has been set up. We have set up a consortium agreement at the end of 2020. This database gathers to date 12 genes and 11,912 different variants in more than 40,000 French families.

One of the key measurable parameters for classification of VUS as causal mutations is their co-segregation with the disease. The average size of French families is relatively small, the information of variant co-segregation limited to one family would not be significant. However, the compilation of co-segregation results obtained from several families will allow to obtain more precise and complete estimations of the probability of causality of a given variant.

The objective of the COVAR study (COsegregation VARiants) is to organize co-segregation studies of the VUS of the database UMD-BRCA1/2, in order to determine the causal or non-causal nature of these variants. To organize the variants by their clinical relevance, a grid with 5 classes has been used: 1=neutral, 2=likely neutral, 3=VUS, 4=likely causal, 5=causal. The VUS of classes 3 and 4 will be candidates to co-segregation studies because they cannot be used for the genetic counseling.

In the selected families the index case will invite the family members (affected and unaffected) to provide a sample of salivary fluid to test the presence of the VUS. The probability that a VUS is causal will be calculated from the cosegregation data using a Bayesian model. The results will be integrated in the multifactorial model described by D. Goldgar, model integrating different parameters as amino acid conservation, structural impact of the variant, co-occurrence with a pathogenic mutation, family history and tumor characteristics.

Condition Gene Mutation-Related Cancer, Genetic Predisposition
Treatment salivary kit
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT01689584
SponsorInstitut Curie
Last Modified on19 September 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Index cases
A person carrying a gene variant class 3 or 4, present and selected in the families of national database of genetic group and cancer (GGC Unicancer) which identifies the variations of all genes from the panel of genes of all French laboratories
Age ≥ 18 years
Signed written inform consent "index case
Related parties
Any relative of an index case with cancer
Any relative without cancer related to an index case, retained by investigators, based on family structure and degree of related compared to the index case
Age ≥ 18 years
Information and signature of the informed consent "selected relatives

Exclusion Criteria

Persons deprived of liberty or under guardianship (including curators)
Absence of signed written inform consent
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