Drug Discovery Database Launched
Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2001 there has been an explosion in the amount of genetic information available to researchers involved in drug discovery. As faster technologies continue to fuel the growth of large datasets, researchers at the ICR and elsewhere must develop new methods for distilling useful information from an overwhelming amount of data.
To address the challenge of ever-growing datasets, the Computational Biology and Chemogenomics Team within the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the ICR has developed the canSAR database - a resource that brings together, for the first time, biological, chemical, pharmacological and eventually clinical data about important genes and proteins.
Professor Paul Workman, Director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, said: "The most important use of canSAR for us is to help us to carry out a continuous, comprehensive and systematic analysis of potential molecular targets for drug discovery.”
This gives us the best possible basis for selecting the most promising targets against which to discover and develop drugs and get these to cancer patients faster than possible before. The analysis takes into account both the information linking the target to cancer and also the practical feasibility or ‘druggability’ of the target. We are making canSAR available to researchers worldwide who will be able to use it for a wide range of applications.”
After canSAR proved successful within the ICR, researchers publicly launched the database to allow scientists and clinicians worldwide to speedily search through cancer-related data and information from other specialist research groups.
Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani, the Computational Biology and Chemogenomics Team Leader, said: “With the unprecedented amounts of electronic data being generated by modern molecular research techniques, the demand for a resource that brings together all this information and makes it available in a clear and manageable format is greater than ever. Previously the information was stored in many different locations and formats, which limited its effective use by researchers.
“canSAR is the first resource that links together such huge and diverse data sets from a multitude of sources worldwide, as well as connecting data from different institutions such as the Wellcome Sanger Institute, The European Bioinformatics Institute, The National Cancer Institute and of course here, the ICR.”
The ICR team hopes that by providing data in a manageable way from a single online location, canSAR will accelerate the dissemination of knowledge in the cancer research community, benefitting patients by helping to move basic research discoveries to new drugs in the clinic more quickly.