National Cancer Institute releases software tool for sharing microarray data

Washington D.C. 11 February 2005The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has released a new software tool that will facilitate the sharing and analysis of microarray data by the medical research community. Microarray technology has many applications in cancer research, including identifying novel genes associated with certain cancers, classifying tumours, and predicting patient outcome. The new tool will advance the NCI's goal of creating an information-sharing network modelled on the World Wide Web for cancer researchers as well as researchers in other fields.


The open-source, open-access software tool, caArray version 1.0, developed by the NCI Center for Bioinformatics (NCICB), can be used to create public repositories of microarray data, linking scientists within an institution or around the globe. The tool provides the means for storing, accessing, and exchanging information created through standard platforms. Mechanisms to ensure the controlled and secure sharing of sensitive data are included.

"This tool provides a way for the cancer research community to very robustly share their data with colleagues around the world", stated Ken Buetow, Ph.D, director of NCICB. "By making the source code freely available to the community, we hope to speed the development of novel tools for analysing and visualizing the data."

caArray offers distinct advantages to researchers. It meets the requirements for Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment (MIAME) so that data can become publicly available. Also, the software is compatible with other tools created for the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid, or caBIG, so that microarray data can be integrated with other data for further analysis. Developed under the leadership of NCICB, caBIG is a voluntary network or Grid connecting individuals and institutions to enable the sharing of data and tools. The goal is to speed the delivery of innovative approaches for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

The beta version of caArray has been tested at several NCI Cancer Centers, and other researchers are committed to adopting caArray or helping to build enhancements. Researchers can now download and install the software at, provided they adhere to the open source license. Researchers can submit data at Complete documentation is provided from both a user standpoint and from a technical standpoint.

Leslie Versweyveld

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