Scientists have been searching for DNA methylation biomarkers to improve the diagnosis and management of cancer for over a decade (Laird, 2003), but for various reasons (see Ioannidis et al., 2017; Munafo et al., 2017; van Gool et al., 2017) and despite all the resources that have been invested, translation of cancer biomarkers into routine clinical practice only rarely occurs (Poste, 2011; Kern, 2012). Our team recently published a paper in which we discuss this issue in detail for DNA methylation biomarkers (Koch et al., 2018).
In an attempt to address the so-called translational research valley of death (Butler, 2008), we are mobilizing an international team of scientists, scientific journals, academic institutions, funding agencies, private partners, biobanks and patient advocacy groups. Our goal is to improve the reliability, efficiency and translation of DNA methylation marker research.
To achieve our goal, we plan to build a FAIR database of all published cancer DNA methylation markers. Such a database would be a valuable resource for our field by itself, but we also aim to integrate it with existing biobanks and other infrastructure initiatives.
Collecting the information we need from the publications will be a challenging task. To automate the data submission in the future and to promote data ownership, we are working on a reporting standard for DNA methylation markers.
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