Gene database an accurate tool for researchers studying colon cancer

A database that comprises all genetic association studies on colorectal cancer is an accurate tool for researchers in the fight against the disease, according to a study published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers with the University of Ottawa conducted two systematic reviews of the database and compared their findings with data on more than 400 polymorphisms in 110 different genes from 635 publications.

 A total of 16 independent gene variants out of 23 total variants were identified as having the strongest link to colorectal cancer. While that number wasn't as high as the researchers had anticipated, it was adequate for their purposes of propelling future research efforts. "The analysis here provides a resource for mining available data and puts into context the sample sizes required for the identification of true associations," they said, according to an announcement.

Big data efforts for researching several diseases, including cancer, have become more commonplace, particularly within the last year. In July, a study published in Cancer Research highlighted software recently developed by the National Cancer Institute that allows researchers to compare data from large collections of genomic information against thousands of drugs in order to find effective treatments for cancer.

Meanwhile, researchers at The State University of New York at Buffalo have been using IBM analytics software to study genetic and environmental factors that could cause the acceleration of multiple sclerosis symptoms in some individuals.

A report unveiled in April by the Kansas City, Mo.-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation determined that continued efforts to use big data in healthcare could help to lower overall costs.

To learn more:
- here's the study's abstract
- read the accompanying announcement
- check out this field synopsis from the researchers

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