Science & Technology

New AI technology enhances database for cancer drug discovery

The updated database is expected to enable scientists to design new cancer treatments more effectively

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 04 January 2016

The growing database now holds the 3-D structures of almost three million cavities on the surface of nearly 110,000 molecules (Representative image from Thinkstock)

A significant upgrade to the canSAR database will now give scientists access to 3-D structures of faulty proteins and maps of cancer’s communication networks, according to Cancer Research UK-funded research published in Nucleic Acid Research on January 4.

The canSAR database was developed by The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, and provides detailed information about the effects of one million drugs and chemicals on human proteins. The free-to-use resource enables scientists to design new cancer treatments.

The new version of canSAR uses artificial intelligence to create 3-D images of cancer-causing molecules and identify communication lines within tumour cells, creating greater potential for new cancer drugs and approaches to treatment.

Bissan Al-Lazikani, team leader in computational biology at ICR, who led the team that developed canSAR, said, “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 growing database now holds the 3D structures of almost three million cavities on the surface of nearly 110,000 molecules.

Kat Arney, Cancer Research UK’s science information manager, said, “This database makes masses of detailed scientific information about cancer available to scientists all over the world, and will speed up crucial advances in drug discovery—ultimately saving more lives. Finding new treatments for cancer can be a long and expensive process, so anything that cuts times and costs will help to bring the next generation of therapies to patients even sooner.”

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