A New Genetic Database

In News@nature.com:

A vast database showing how human genes react to drugs and diseases could be used in a scheme to find new therapies. A pilot project has now proved that such a project could work and has already revealed potential drugs to fight cancer and other diseases.

To build the pilot database, Todd Golub of the Broad Institute mdash a collaboration involving the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts — and his colleagues threw 164 different drugs or other chemical compounds onto human cancer cells, particularly breast cancers. They used DNA microarrays — small chips that expose in one swoop the activity of every known human gene in a particular tissue — to record which genes were boosted or repressed by each drug.

The team entered the results of these microarrays into a database. They could then search it for patterns in gene expression caused by other diseases or drugs (or the opposites of these patterns), in a similar way to forensic fingerprint matching.