Massive Cancer Information Giveaway
Scientists at GlaxoSmithKline spent a small fortune studying cancer cells, and then gave most of their precious information away -- for free -- to the research community. That massive donation, which was announced on Friday, could accelerate the discovery of new oncology drugs and blood tests by giving brilliant, but underfunded, researchers a chance to pick through boatloads of data.
For the pharmaceutical giant, sharing makes a lot of sense: They rely upon academics and small companies to do pioneering work -- identifying new targets for medications, discovering early warning signs, and figuring out the underlying biological malfunctions that cause cancer. Once those groundbreaking studies have been done, Glaxo and other large corporations can step back into the picture and create new products.
Most of the data was gathered by microarrays, chips that can record lots of biological information. Its new home is the caBIG website, a massive repository of genetic information run by the National Cancer Institute. Glaxo gave the online community information from three hundred different sets of cells, which were taken from diseased breast, prostate, lung and ovarian tissues.