St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Sanger Institute, UK collaborate to make data beautiful

Agreement makes it easy for any scientist to explore cancer genome data

Memphis, Tennessee, September 16, 2016

Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D.

Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., chair of Department of Computational Biology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK have agreed to a full exchange of cancer mutation data to support the discovery and understanding of genetic mutations causing cancers.

The agreement will provide regular updates and exchanges of data between both institutions to ensure the best support for research in all areas of cancer, and will be freely available to researchers in all areas of science.

"We want this to be the definitive resource for genomic information for the pediatric cancer community," said Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., chair of Department of Computational Biology at St. Jude. "This collaboration will allow us to share data across two institutions to better understand, using our combined knowledge, what causes cancer."

Each institution has its own database, but the new partnership will allow for a more robust repository of information. ProteinPaint, developed by St. Jude researchers, provides a better way to visualize pediatric mutations in the context of human genes and proteins. The goal is for scientists to use genomic data to make more accurate diagnoses, learn how different DNA changes contribute to cancer and develop precision therapies tailored for the genetic makeup of a patient's cancer.

The Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer, the database of cancer mutations at the Sanger Institute, UK, has more than 4.1 million mutations. COSMIC is designed to store and display somatic mutation information and related details and contains information relating to human cancers.

"It's very exciting to be working with St. Jude to help characterize the causes of childhood cancer," said Dr. Simon Forbes, head of COSMIC at the Sanger Institute. "Many of our users are supporting diagnostic and pharmaceutical discovery and in this way we hope to support future improvements for these young patients."

Exploring childhood cancer genomics with ProteinPaint

Clues to the causes and cures for childhood cancer are buried deep in a child’s DNA. ProteinPaint is a web tool developed at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help researchers explore big data from cancer genome sequencing projects and make new discoveries.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit stjude.org or follow the hospital on Twitter and Instagram at @stjuderesearch.

About COSMIC

COSMIC, the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer, is an expert-curated database describing the wide variety of genetic variations associated with all forms of human cancer. A key resource underpinning cancer genetic research, COSMIC provides large high-quality datasets, methods and graphics to scrutinize the genetics causing this disease, giving insights to pharmaceutical design and patient therapies. Built within the world-leading Sanger Institute (UK) to support global research, millions of mutations across thousands of diseases can be explored at http://cancer.sanger.ac.uk.