NCI Releases Software Tool for Sharing Microarray Data
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes
of Health (NIH), has released a new software tool that will facilitate
the sharing and analysis of microarray data by the medical research
community. Microarray technology has many applications in cancer
research, including identifying novel genes associated with certain
cancers, classifying tumors, and predicting patient outcome. The
new tool will advance the NCI’s goal of creating an information-sharing
network modeled on the World Wide Web for cancer researchers as
well as researchers in other fields.
The open-source, open-access software tool, caArray version 1.0,
developed by the NCI Center for Bioinformatics (NCICB), can be
used to create public repositories of microarray data, linking
scientists within an institution or around the globe. The tool
provides the means for storing, accessing, and exchanging information
created through standard platforms. Mechanisms to ensure the controlled
and secure sharing of sensitive data are included.
“This tool provides a way for the cancer research community to very
robustly share their data with colleagues around the world,” said
Ken Buetow, Ph.D, director of NCICB. “By making the source
code freely available to the community, we hope to speed the development
of novel tools for analyzing and visualizing the data.”
caArray offers distinct advantages to researchers. It meets the
requirements for Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment
(MIAME) so that data can become publicly available. Also, the software
is compatible with other tools created for the cancer Biomedical
Informatics Grid, or caBIG (http://caBIG.nci.nih.gov), so that
microarray data can be integrated with other data for further analysis.
Developed under the leadership of NCICB, caBIG is a voluntary network
or grid connecting individuals and institutions to enable the sharing
of data and tools. The goal is to speed the delivery of innovative
approaches for the prevention and treatment of cancer.
The beta version of caArray has been tested at several NCI Cancer
Centers, and other researchers are committed to adopting caArray
or helping to build enhancements. Researchers can now download
and install the software at http://ncicb.nci.nih.gov/download,
provided they adhere to the open source license. Researchers can
submit data at http://caarraydb.nci.nih.gov. Complete documentation
is provided from both a user standpoint and from a technical standpoint.
For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web
site at http://www.cancer.gov or call NCI's Cancer Information
Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).