San Antonio's groundbreaking 'San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project' is moving to the next level as the START Center is partnering with the world's leading genomics system to sequence the data on the cancer cases of some one thousand local patients and place it on line for people everywhere to explore, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

  "So that people can look and see why some patients do well, and some patients don't do well," START Center Clinical Director Dr. Anthony Tolcher told News Radio 1200 WOAI.

  Why, for example, some three pack a day smokers come down with lung cancer while others don't, or why some women's breast cancer goes into remission while another case which looked identical at the outset grows to stage four levels and results in death has baffled cancer researchers for decades.

  So, in a project which is so unique that even Spurs forward Tim Duncan has invested in it, Tolcher says the START Center as decided to rely on what the Chinese call the 'human search engine.'  All of the data involving the patients, complete with information on their progress and outcomes, will be posted on line for not only professional cancer researchers, but anybody who is interested, to examine.

  "We make all of the data widely available in an open site, which means people from all sorts of different backgrounds can openly analyze this data," he said.

  The idea, Tolcher says, is, as has happened throughout scientific history, researchers who are not directly involved in cancer research will review the data and possibly it will be a mathematician, a physicist, or maybe a lay person who can make the connection and crack the code to how cancer spreads.

  Some of the greatest and most significant inventions in human history have been made by people who were actually looking for something else, and, in come cases, were not looking for anything at all.  From Archimedes, who came up with his groundbreaking theory of volume while sitting in his bathtub, to Isaac Newton's famous reflections on gravity after seeing an apple fall from a tree, to the fact that the discoverers of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra were actually working on a drug to cure angina at the time, sometimes connections and cause and effect principles can be more easily determined by people who aren't looking for them at the time.

  START is partnering with a firm called WuXi NextCODE, which has worked in precision medicine efforts in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Qatar and China.  It has received the contract to use its proprietary sequence laboratory and its NextCLOUD storage solution to compile the data and make it available on line.  The firm stresses that its operations are completely compliant with the U.S. health care privacy law, and the information will be made available in a way that it cannot be tracked down to any single unique patients.

  "San Antonio is innovating locally and impacting globally, an approach to precision medicine which we are thrilled to be a part of," said Hannes Smarason, co-founder of WuXi NextCODE.  "This is a pathbreaking resource in scope, scale, and with START's hallmark clinical rigor. We are all focused here on speeding the delivery of the latest in genome-driven therapy straight to cancer patients, wherever they might be."

  The 'San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project' is the largest community-wide undertaking of its kind and, more significantly, all data will be made available publicly at no cost to researchers worldwide.

  Tolcher says the idea is no single investigator or institution has all the answers and encourages the involvement of outsiders who might bring fresh ideas to the complex problem of gene abnormalities and cancer.