Neurology Central

Brain cancer dataset made freely accessible to global researchers

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In a recent statement, researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (DC, USA) have announced that a valuable cache of brain cancer data has been made freely available to researchers worldwide.

The dataset, REMBRANDT (REpository for Molecular BRAin Neoplasia DaTa), which is hosted and supported by Georgetown, is one of only two such large collections in the USA. It includes genomic data from 261 samples of glioblastoma, 170 of astrocytoma, 86 tissues of oligodendroglioma, and a number that are mixed or of an unknown subclass. The outcomes data include more than 13,000 data points.

The study, which has been published in Scientific Data, includes information on 671 patients collected from 14 contributing institutions from 2004–2006. The dataset contains genomic information collected from volunteer patients who allowed their tumors to be sampled, and includes information on diagnostic (such as brain scans), treatment and outcomes data.

According to the investigators, thousands of researchers in the USA and internationally have already logged on to the data site on a daily basis.

Subha Madhavan (Georgetown University Medical Center, DC, USA) explains how the data collection interface is extraordinarily easy to use: “It sits on Amazon Web Services, and has a simple web interface access to data and analysis tools. All a researcher needs is a computer and an internet connection to log onto this interface to select, filter analyze and visualize the brain tumor datasets.”

“We want this data to be widely used by the broadest audience – the entire biomedical research community – so that imagination and discovery is maximized,” added Yuriy Gusev (Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics, DC, USA), first author of the study. “Our common goal is to tease apart the clues hidden within this biomedical and clinical information in order to find ways that advance diagnostic and clinical outcomes for these patients.”

Madhavan further explain how researchers are able to search for their gene of interest, check their expression and amplification status and link that to clinical outcomes. They are then able to save their findings to their workspace on the Georgetown Database of Cancer (G-DOC) platform and share it with their collaborators.

Given the large array of protein-coding genes in the human genome, and the variety of brain cancer tumor types, “it will take a big village – really a vast metro area – of investigators to understand the bases of these tumors and to effectively develop treatments that target them,” concluded Madhavan.

Sources: Gusev Y, Bhuvaneshwar K, Song L, Zenklusen J-C, Fine H, Madhavan S. The REMBRANDT study, a large collection of genomic data from brain cancer patients. Sci. Data 5, 180158 (2018); https://gumc.georgetown.edu/news/Large-Collection-of-Brain-Cancer-Data-Now-Easily-Accessible-to-Researchers

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