A future healthcare-delivery scenario is in preparation - a scenario that emerges from the envisioned and raising genomic medicine era.
It addresses the individualised (or personalised) healthcare needs and benefits, and reveals the motivation underlying the ACGT project proposal. At the same time it designates the needed and inevitable investments in technological advances towards its realisation and achievement.
This is a critical time in the history of cancer research as recent advances in methods and technologies have resulted in an explosion of information and knowledge about cancer and its treatment. As a result, our ability to characterize and understand the various forms of cancer is growing exponentially.
Information arising from post-genomics research, and combined genetic and clinical trials on one hand, and advances from high-performance computing and informatics on the other is rapidly providing the medical and scientific community with new insights, answers and capabilities. The breadth and depth of information already available in the research community at large, present an enormous opportunity for improving our ability to reduce mortality from cancer, improve therapies and meet the demanding individualization of care needs.
The aforementioned needs, and the posted scientific and technological challenges push for transdisciplinary team science and translational research.
Up to now, the lack of a common infrastructure has prevented clinical research institutions from being able to mine and analyze disparate data sources. This inability to share technologies and data developed by different cancer research institutions can therefore severely hamper the research process. Similarly, the lack of a unifying architecture can prove to be a major roadblock to a researcher's ability to mine different databases. Most critically, however, even within a single laboratory, researchers have difficulty integrating data from different technologies because of a lack of common standards and other technological and medico-legal and ethical issues.
As a result, very few cross-site studies and clinical trials are performed and in most cases it isn't possible to seamlessly integrate multi-level data (from the molecular to the organ, individual and population levels). Moreover, clinicians or molecular biologists often find it hard to exploit each other's expertise due to the absence of a cooperative environment which enables the sharing of data, resources or tools for comparing results and experiments, and a uniform platform supporting the seamless integration and analysis of disease-related data at all levels.