Two studies that may provide a useful resource for efforts to develop personalised cancer therapies are published in Nature.
By performing large-scale screens of human cancer cell lines, researchers identify potential drug-sensitivity biomarkers to a broad range of cancer drugs.
Levi Garraway and colleagues describe a compilation of genomic data from human cancer cell lines together with pharmacological profiling of 24 drugs across nearly 500 of these lines.
The resulting collection, called the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia, uncovers both known and new candidate biomarkers that predict response to therapeutic agents. A separate screen of over 600 cancer cell lines with 130 drugs performed by Mathew Garnett and co-workers also identifies genetic signatures associated with drug sensitivity.
Of note, they discover a genomic alteration found in Ewing’s sarcoma (a rare childhood cancer) that is associated with sensitivity to a group of pharmacological agents called PARP inhibitors. These observations raise the possibility that PARP inhibitors could be of value in the treatment of Ewing’s sarcoma.
Taken together, these reports offer insights into the genetic basis of sensitivity and resistance to cancer treatment. The identification of potential biomarkers that might predict drug response will hopefully help improve the patient selection process for targeted therapies and drive the development of new therapeutic strategies.
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