Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is canSAR?
2. Do I need a license to use canSAR?
3. Why is canSAR called 'canSAR'?
4. I'm new to canSAR, how can I find out how to use it?
5. I seem to find that some functionality is missing when using IE
6. How can I inform you of any bugs or problems?
7. How can I cite canSAR?
8. Where does the data in canSAR come from?
9. How often is the data in canSAR updated?
10. How frequently is the 3D structural data updated in canSAR?
11. Do I need to know the official gene name to search for a target?
12. What organisms does canSAR store data on?
13. I still cannot find my target and I have searched for different names
14. I cannot find a compound by searching for its name, but I expect it to be in canSAR
15. How do I find out what tissues or cell lines show high expression of my target?
16. How do I find out if there is half life or other ADME data for my compound?
17. Can I do a batch substructure search using an SDF of a list of compounds as the query?
18. What chemical cartridge is used to do the chemical searches?
19. How do I find out if X-ray structures are available for my target?
20. In Compound Synopsis, when viewing either Protein Affinity Profile or Cellline Sensitivity Profile, how do I expand the figure at the bottom so that the names of the individual cell lines can be read?
21. Why should I register?


1. What is canSAR?

canSAR is an integrated database that brings together biological, chemical, pharmacological (and eventually clinical) data. Its goal is to integrate this data and make it accessible to cancer research scientists from multiple disciplines, to aid hypothesis generation and decision making towards identifying causes, biomarkers and therapeutics for cancer.


2. Do I need a license to use canSAR?

No. canSAR is freely available to all cancer researchers, both academic and commercial. Please read the Terms of Use.


3. Why is canSAR called 'canSAR'?

canSAR is a historical play on words to reflect the fact that it integrates cancer-relevant data with compound Structure-Activity-Relationship (SAR) data. Of course canSAR has grown to be much more than that but the name stuck!


4. I'm new to canSAR, how can I find out how to use it?

We provide documentation, FAQs, Quick Starts, Common Use-cases and tutorials.


5. I seem to find that some functionality is missing when using IE

Internet explorer is a non-standards compliant browser. This means that standards laid down by the international community describing various aspects of web protocols are ignored by IE and often cause IE to fail to display the web site. Due to the advanced nature of the web interface provided by canSAR, many of the techniques implemented use technoligies that are not properly supported by IE. We recommend using firefox to benefit from the full functionality of canSAR


6. How can I inform you of any bugs or problems?

We really appreciate being told about bugs or any other issues you experience while using canSAR. Please email us on cansar@icr.ac.uk


7. How can I cite canSAR?

To cite canSAR please cite:

Joseph E. Tym, Costas Mitsopoulos, Elizabeth A. Coker, Parisa Razaz, Amanda C. Schierz, Albert A. Antolin, and Bissan Al-Lazikani.
canSAR: an updated cancer research and drug discovery knowledgebase
Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Jan 4;44(D1):D938-43. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkv1030. Epub 2015 Dec 15.


8. Where does the data in canSAR come from?

canSAR data comes from a wide variety of public sources and publications. The ICR internal version of canSAR also includes internally generated experimental data. For latest data sources and statistics, please refer to Data Sources


9. How often is the data in canSAR updated?

We try to have a data and minor functionality update on a monthly basis. However, most of the data in canSAR comes from public sources which have different update cycles. The Data Sources allow you to see the status of each update.


10. How frequently is the 3D structural data updated in canSAR?

We update 3D structures every week, a couple of days after PDB release new structures in order for us to provide additional annotations and integrate this data with the respective chemical and biological information in canSAR.


11. Do I need to know the official gene name to search for a target?

No, canSAR searches all alternative names, synonyms, descriptions and keywords.


12. What organisms does canSAR store data on?

canSAR target dictionary focusses on human data, although we have a large number of model organism targets. Target key word searches only search human targets . Chemical screening data is from a wide variety of organisms.


13. I still cannot find my target and I have searched for different names

Is your target not a human target? Try expanding the search by clicking on "Advanced Options", then choose "All organisms".
If you still cannot find your target (this rarely ever happens), and you can obtain the amino acid sequence of your target from another source, try performing a sequence search. If you still cannot find your target, please let us know by emailing cansar@icr.ac.uk and we will try our best to help.


14. I cannot find a compound by searching for its name, but I expect it to be in canSAR

We annotate compound synonyms in canSAR wherever we can. However, to make sure, please do a chemical structure search. If you think data is missing then please contact us on cansar@icr.ac.uk


15. How do I find out what tissues or cell lines show high expression of my target?

If it is a single target, it is best to view the Target Synopsis and go to the Expression area. There you will find a list of tissues and cell lines with expression levels. See "Target Synopsis" in the Quick Start section for a quick guide on how to do this. If you have multiple targets that you want to know the expression for at once, please use the expression tool (In the tools section)


16. How do I find out if there is half life or other ADME data for my compound?

This information can be obtained from the "Compound Synopsis" Page for a given compound.


17. Can I do a batch substructure search using an SDF of a list of compounds as the query?

At the moment this functionality is not enabled because of the stress it will put on the server, thus possibly hindering other users. We are working to identify the best way to to do this.


18. What chemical cartridge is used to do the chemical searches?

We use Symyx Cartridge


19. How do I find out if X-ray structures are available for my target?

You can do this by viewing the "Target Synopsis" and going to the "Structural annotation" section. Alternatively, you can enter the search for the gene name in the canSAR-3d portal by clicking on the turquoise "3D" star.


20. In Compound Synopsis, when viewing either Protein Affinity Profile or Cellline Sensitivity Profile, how do I expand the figure at the bottom so that the names of the individual cell lines can be read?

If you drag over and highlight a region of the full plot at the bottom, that region is then plotted as the blue bars with readable cell names under each blue bar. Additionally, if you click on any blue bar it gives you the cell name as well as the measurement.


21. Why should I register?

You can use canSAR as a guest user indefinitely. However, if you wish to use some of the more advance features (E.g. Saving, combining searches and running larger jobs), then you will need to register. Registration takes 15 seconds and only requires an email address, username and password.