COSMIC (Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer)

The COSMIC database stores and displays information about somatic mutations in cancer - mutations that are acquired over the course of a person's lifetime. The database features information about publications, mutations and samples - bringing together information about somatic mutation available in published scientific literature and emanating from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute's Cancer Genome Project in one place. As a resource for researchers seeking to understand and tackle human cancers, COSMIC provides unified and consistent access to these data.

[Genome Research Limited]


Established and maintained by researchers in the Institute's Cancer Genome Project, COSMIC is the largest global resource of its kind. It contains information on more than 100,000 somatic mutations from approximately 400,000 tumours. The web-based database, established at the Institute in 2004 by Professor Mike Stratton and Dr Andy Futreal, is maintained through bi-monthly updates and is set to expand rapidly as the technology to sequence tumour samples becomes faster and more readily available.

Researchers can use the database, which is made freely and publicly available by the Institute, to access data from curated literature, the Cancer Genome Project's resequencing studies and the Cancer Cell Line Project.

Users are invited to generate summaries of mutation details for genes and access literature relating to specific mutations. As well as interrogating the database by gene name, users can also search the information source by tissue type or cancer morphology. There is also an option to specify physical characteristics or symptoms of the cancer when searching the database. Crucially, COSMIC also contains information about samples that have been found negative for mutations during screening, allowing frequency data to be extracted for different somatic mutations.

As the focus of recent cancer genome sequencing initiatives, such as the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), moves to full-genome resequencing, generating tens of thousands of mutations and rearrangements per sample, COSMIC is constantly developing new ways of effectively storing and making available these new extensive data for consumption by the research community.

Selected Publications

  • COSMIC (the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer): a resource to investigate acquired mutations in human cancer.

    Forbes SA, Tang G, Bindal N, Bamford S, Dawson E, Cole C, Kok CY, Jia M, Ewing R, Menzies A, Teague JW, Stratton MR and Futreal PA

    Nucleic acids research 2010;38;Database issue;D652-7

  • The Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC).

    Forbes SA, Bhamra G, Bamford S, Dawson E, Kok C, Clements J, Menzies A, Teague JW, Futreal PA and Stratton MR

    Current protocols in human genetics / editorial board, Jonathan L. Haines ... [et al.] 2008;Chapter 10;Unit 10.11

  • COSMIC 2005.

    Forbes S, Clements J, Dawson E, Bamford S, Webb T, Dogan A, Flanagan A, Teague J, Wooster R, Futreal PA and Stratton MR

    British journal of cancer 2006;94;2;318-22

  • The COSMIC (Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer) database and website.

    Bamford S, Dawson E, Forbes S, Clements J, Pettett R, Dogan A, Flanagan A, Teague J, Futreal PA, Stratton MR and Wooster R

    British journal of cancer 2004;91;2;355-8

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