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New version of canSAR database is more user-friendly, with more data than ever before

Mixture of pills

Image: Mixture of pills. Source Pixabay (CC 0)

The world’s largest and most comprehensive resource for cancer drug discovery has been updated to include more data and new tools to make it easier to use than ever before.

The canSAR resource, developed and maintained by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is designed to help teams choose and assess their targets for drug discovery research.

Freely available for anyone to use, the latest version of canSAR contains records of more than 1.9 million drugs and chemical compounds, 2.8 million gene mutation records from cancer patients, and more than 228,000 clinical trial records.

The update also includes improvements to make canSAR’s drug discovery tools more user-friendly.

Where Big Data meets machine learning

Bringing biological, chemical, pharmacological and disease data together with machine learning, canSAR is able to to offer predictions about how proteins and drugs may interact.

Since its first release in 2011, canSAR has been accessed by more than 200,000 people from 200 countries, and has been cited in more than 300 research papers.

Writing in the journal in the journal Nucleic Acids Research, the ICR’s Computational Biology and Chemogenomics Team explained how they developed the latest update, version 4.0.

As well as incorporating a range of new datasets, the team analysed the chemistry, 3D structures and cellular interactions of thousands of proteins to estimate their potential as drug targets.

The data should help researchers wanting to select priority targets for their drug discovery work.

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Major enhancements - canSAR BLACK

The update also includes a preview of canSAR BLACK – a redesign of the canSAR knowledgebase which is more user friendly, with new enhanced tools to answer key research questions.

The canSAR BLACK update improves the system’s interface to make it easier for non-computational scientists to use, and more accessible for users from different research disciplines.

CanSAR BLACK was named after Sir James Black, who advocated designing drugs for specific targets – a driving principle behind canSAR, and the update comes with advanced visualisations tools, filtering and navigation techniques to make it easier than ever to use.

Professor Bissan Al-Lazikani, Head of Data Science at the ICR and leader of the team developing canSAR, said:

“canSAR is an invaluable tool for anyone working in translational research and drug discovery.

“In this paper, we set out a number of major enhancements to canSAR, including new and expanded data.

“With these updates, we hope to make canSAR even more powerful, providing researchers with a single platform to answer complex questions about protein druggability and activity, and helping them to develop new cancer treatments.”


CanSAR Bissan Al-Lazikani informatics
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