This week the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer project has released the results of four years of intense data gathering and exploration which will power genetic research into cancer treatment worldwide. The freely available data set includes unique data comparing almost 1,000 cancer cell lines’ responses to 453 licensed and experimental drugs.

The project, led by researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, builds on the previous six years’ study, and practically doubles the volume of novel data available on the website – making it the largest public dataset of its kind in the world.

This new data release brings the amount of freely available, open-access data on the website to 453 cancer treatment compounds, 989 cancer cell lines, 494,973 genomic associations tested and 386,293 drug dose response curves.

The Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer project is a pioneering public-private partnership funded by Wellcome. It combines samples of hospital patients’ cancer cell lines with licensed and experimental cancer drugs from a number of pharmaceutical companies, and applies in-depth observation and genetic analysis to identify how the underlying changes in a person’s DNA affect how they will respond to treatment. The ultimate goal is to identify biomarkers that could be used in the clinic to identify which drugs will work best to treat a patient’s cancer, based on the tumour’s genetic profile.

“We are delighted that we have been able to create, and release, this valuable data to the global cancer research community,” said Mathew Garnett, co-lead of the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer project. “We hope it will provide new insights that will point to new ways to target, and treat individual tumours.”