A free online research portal was launched by The National Cancer Research Institute, ONIX, has launched to the public. Enabling scientists and clinicians to search through and access international research data held online, ONIX (ONcology Information eXchange) is to improve the flow of cancer research information between individuals, institutions and organisations. The portal is free-to-use and uses powerful search technology – which significantly reduces the time it currently takes for scientists and clinicians to find cancer-related data and information across the spectrum of research from genomics to clinical trials. This reduces duplication of research effort across the globe and makes it easier for researchers to collaborate on similar studies. It will speed up the development of new therapies, and could potentially improve prognosis and diagnosis.
The online research environment is seen as the gateway to cancer research. The scientists and clinicians can simultaneously search through multiple cancer-related databases, and track the latest developments in the field, what research is being carried out by which researchers, and where. Most importantly, when users carry out a search on ONIX, they receive the search results in a clear usable format. The demand for a system such as ONIX is greater than ever. In the last 10 years the amount of health-related data available in electronic format has ballooned due to the vast volumes of data generated by modern molecular research techniques. The system (ONIX) would be driven by user feedback. An ‘Intelligent’ search feature is being developed which would interpret the language used in search terms, called semantic searching. This would enable researchers to find highly specific cancer-related information whilst eliminating irrelevant search results. The NCRI Informatics project is a collaborative project with a number of UK institutions including the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) and the NHS Connecting for Health Research Capability Programme (RCP).