Life sciences are currently at the centre of an information revolution. The nature and amount of information now available opens up areas of research that were once in the realm of science fiction. During this information revolution, the data-gathering capabilities have greatly surpassed the data-analysis techniques. Data integration across heterogeneous data sources and data aggregation across different aspects of the biomedical spectrum, therefore, is at the centre of current biomedical and pharmaceutical R&D.
This paper reports on original results from the ACGT integrated project, focusing on the design and development of a European Biomedical Grid infrastructure in support of multi-centric, post-genomic clinical trials (CTs) on cancer. Post-genomic CTs use multi-level clinical and genomic data and advanced computational analysis and visualisation tools to test hypotheses in trying to identify the molecular reasons for a disease and the stratification of patients in terms of treatment.
The paper provides a presentation of the needs of users involved in post-genomic CTs and presents indicative scenarios, which drive the requirements of the engineering phase of the project. Subsequently, the initial architecture specified by the project is presented, and its services are classified and discussed. A range of such key services, including the Master Ontology on Cancer, which lie at the heart of the integration architecture of the project, is presented. Special efforts have been taken to describe the methodological and technological framework of the project, enabling the creation of a legally compliant and trustworthy infrastructure. Finally, a short discussion of the forthcoming work is included, and the potential involvement of the cancer research community in further development or utilisation of the infrastructure is described.