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3D Database Could Revolutionise Cancer Treatment

The world’s largest database for cancer drug discovery has been “revolutionised” by the addition of a 3D component to illustrate the structures of faulty human proteins, according to Cancer Research UK.

The canSAR database, developed in 2011 by researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, collates vast amounts of information to aid scientists around the world in developing new potential treatments for tackling cancer. 

One of the key aims of the database is to build a detailed and continually evolving picture of how the majority of human proteins behave. Billions of experimental measurements have already been collated to map the impact of one million drugs and chemicals on human proteins. 

It is believed the advancement will enable research scientists to more efficiently identify new drugs for treating cancer as the new 3D function provides access to the 3D structures of almost three million cavities on the surface of nearly 110,000 faulty cancer-causing molecules for comparison and analysis. 

The new version of canSAR uses artificial intelligence to identify nooks and crannies on the surface of the molecules, enabling scientists to design new drugs to block them. The database also allows researchers to identify communication lines that can be intercepted within tumour cells. 

Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani, who led the Cancer Research UK-funded team that developed canSAR, said: "Our database is constantly growing with information and is the largest of its kind - with more than 140,000 users from over 175 countries. 

“Scientists need to find all the information there is about a faulty gene or protein to understand whether a new drug might work. These data are vast and scattered, but the canSAR database brings them together and adds value by identifying hidden links and presenting the key information easily.” 

The addition of the 3D feature quite literally adds another dimension to an already essential resource, equipping cancer scientists around the world with the data they need to carry out life-saving research into the most innovative drugs of the future. 

It is hoped that the sheer wealth of detailed integrated knowledge in cancer medicine now available to researchers will help speed up the development of effective treatments faster than ever before for the benefit of patients worldwide. 

The canSAR database demonstrates that continued development of technology remains crucial to scientific advancement and medical progress. Finding new treatments for cancer can be a lengthy and costly process, so anything that helps hasten advances in drug development to benefit patients with cancer and ultimately save lives is great news. 

Claire White is a senior clinical negligence solicitor with Slater and Gordon in Manchester. 

Slater and Gordon represent people who have suffered from delayed diagnosis of cancer due to medical negligence. For a free consultation call our medical negligence solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.

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