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June 14, 2018

Biomaterials meet transcriptomics: the cBiT database

Researchers at the MERLN Institute for Regenerative Medicine recently launched the Compendium for Biomaterial Transcriptomics (cBiT), a new worldwide research database for biomaterial-based trancriptomics studies.

At MERLN, Prof. Jan de Boer leads a team of researchers who want to discover what happens in the cell when it interacts with a biomaterial and which factors influence this behavior. To advance their knowledge they use an interdisciplinary approach encompassing cell biology (transcriptomics), materials science and computational sciences.

It is their goal to expand cBiT with new biomaterial transcriptomics data, generated not only in MERLN but also in institutions all over the world. They invite researchers to contribute to cBiT by either depositing their own data or providing biomaterials that have clinical potential which MERLN will proceed to investigate and incorporate into cBiT (https://cbit.maastrichtuniversity.nl).

With cBiT, MERLN wishes to address the lack of organization in the biomaterial transcriptomics field which will aid the development of new and better biomaterials. Dr. Dennie Hebels, project manager of cBiT, explains:

“Transcriptomics data are often used only once, for one particular analysis and after the results are published, the data are often left on a hard drive collecting digital dust. This is an absolute waste of highly valuable data, since dozens of other analyses can be performed with these data, depending on the underlying hypothesis. Making transcriptomics data available to the research community enables other researchers to use them to answer new questions.

In the last year we have focused on drawing attention to cBiT and steadily expanding the number of studies incorporated in the database. cBiT now contains microarray data from 326 biomaterial samples and we’re constantly working on including existing data and setting up new collaborations to generate new biomaterial data. At the same time, we have put a lot of effort into categorizing the material properties in a structured and unambiguous way to allow for a proper comparison of samples from different studies.”

It is for the first time that such a valuable combination of data is available for download in one central location. Other biomaterial researchers can now use these data, deposit their own transcriptomics data or contact the cBiT team to collaborate on new projects.