The most recent issue of Nucleic Acids Research has a paper about something that I have no doubt will become a hugely valuable asset to those of us who are interested in age-related changes in gene expression: The Gene Aging Nexus. Pan et al.:
The recent development of microarray technology provided unprecedented opportunities to understand the genetic basis of aging. So far, many microarray studies have addressed aging-related expression patterns in multiple organisms and under different conditions. The number of relevant studies continues to increase rapidly. However, efficient exploitation of these vast data is frustrated by the lack of an integrated data mining platform or other unifying bioinformatic resource to enable convenient cross-laboratory searches of array signals. To facilitate the integrative analysis of microarray data on aging, we developed a web database and analysis platform ‘Gene Aging Nexus’ (GAN) that is freely accessible to the research community to query/analyze/visualize cross-platform and cross-species microarray data on aging. By providing the possibility of integrative microarray analysis, GAN should be useful in building the systems-biology understanding of aging. GAN is accessible at http://gan.usc.edu.
There’s such a flood of array data hitting the scientific presses every day, but everyone who wants to mine this data is basically stuck first solving a tedious, somewhat difficult common problem: Most experiments are different enough that it takes almost as much work to combine the data in a meaningful way as it would to repeat the experiments on a standard platform.
As anyone who’s tried to compare experiments performed on different arrays in different cell types (or species) in different labs can attest, this publicly available resource will be a huge boon to meta-analysis of gene expression data related to aging.
I just hope they’ll include some cellular senescence data, too, in subsequent versions of the database. Hint, hint.