US announces formation of huge cancer database

US announces formation of huge cancer database

News of searchable database comes amid study that Americans pay vastly more for cancer drugs

By Barry Eitel

SAN FRANCISCO (AA) – Vice President Joe Biden announced Monday the launch of a massive database containing the genetic and clinical data of 12,000 cancer patients, a computerized system aimed at making information accessible to doctors.

Called the Genomic Data Commons (GDC) and headquartered at the University of Chicago, the database is part of the White House’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative first announced by President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address earlier this year.

In remarks made after touring the facilities, Biden, who was appointed by Obama to be chief of the initiative, stressed the importance of sharing information among doctors and researchers.

A large portion of data regarding cancer treatments is kept closeted at individual universities and hospitals. The GDC is focused on making this data far more accessible.

“Increasing the pool of researchers who can access data and decreasing the time it takes for them to review and find new patterns in that data is critical to speeding up development of lifesaving treatments for patients,” Biden said.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), the government-funded organization that is funding the GDC, will include the genetic information of cancer patients in the database.

“These datasets will lead to a much deeper understanding of which therapies are most effective for individual cancer patients,” Louis Staudt of the NCI said in a statement. “With each new addition, the GDC will evolve into a smarter, more comprehensive knowledge system that will foster important discoveries in cancer research and increase the success of cancer treatment for patients.”

The announcement came on the same day as a study that found cancer drugs in the United States are vastly more expensive than in the rest of the world.

The lowest drug prices were found in India and South Africa. However, the drugs were least affordable in India, as well as China.

Researchers working out of Israel’s Rabin Medical Center unveiled their findings Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

“This study provides a glimpse into prices and affordability of cancer drugs around the world and sets the stage for further research,” said lead study author Daniel Goldstein.

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