It is hoped that the extensive database will help scientists to understand
how genetics and cancer are related, stimulating research into effective
treatments to fight different cancers.
Dr Yves Pommier,
chief of the Laboratory
of Molecular Pharmacology at the NCI, emphasised the significance of the
database: 'Opening this extensive data set to researchers will expand our
knowledge and understanding of tumorigenesis [the process by which normal cells
are transformed into cancer], as more and more cancer-related gene aberrations
'This comes at a great time, because genomic medicine is becoming a reality,
and I am very hopeful this valuable information will change the way we use
drugs for precision medicine', Dr Pommier added.
Researchers conducted whole-exome sequencing on a set of 60 human cancer cell lines
known as the NCI-60. From this, they collected six billion data points from
nine different tissue types including breast, prostate, colon and lung cells, providing
comprehensive information about cancer-specific gene defects. The database will help to enhance the understanding of the relationships
between specific cancer-related genetic variations and drug responses, facilitating
the drug development process, and will be available via the CellMiner and Ingenuity websites.
Dr Pommier told the LA
Times that new drugs could be discovered using the vast wealth of
information now available: 'With a database of 20,000 compounds, there are many
that are still up for grabs. A smart person [can] find new things'.