CanSAR – a free, public cancer focused knowledgebase
Back in June, I posted a blog discussing DNA patenting and my views that science should involve openly shared information in order to research cancer fully, and my worry that companies are caring more about their profits than the wellbeing of patients.
I was therefore very glad to read today that an online resource called CanSAR has been developed by the Institute of Cancer Research, which contains nearly 2 billion experimental results on genes, clinical trials and pharmacological data. This has been done to provide a free computerised system for analysing data that has been collected over the past decade on cancer.
The website is easily accessible and intuitive to use, enabling you to browse their database of proteins, genes and cell lines. For example, I was able to very quickly find an overview on the well-known cell line HeLa, including the disease and tissue it originated from. It also includes more detailed data, including the binding affinities of various drugs, as well as providing links to similar cell lines such as those from the same tissue type.
This online database enables any scientist, across many disciplines, to access information on many aspects of cancer. For instance, what is already known about a protein, the cancers that express or mutate it and which cell line models can be used experimentally to probe its activity.