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Surprising Science

New Cancer Encyclopedia To Revolutionize Treatment

Cancer institutes from around the world have collaborated to release two databases which catalog data on hundreds of cancer cell lines, giving a boost to personalized medicine. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Cancer institutes collaborating from around the world have released two new databases that catalog how hundreds of cancer lines react to anti-cancer drugs, giving new hope to a future of personalized medicine. European and American teams screened more than 600 cancer lines, “identifying genetic signatures linked to drug sensitivity.” Important discoveries are already emerging. A rare children’s bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma has shown to be vulnerable to certain drugs. The papers detailing the databases will be published in Nature

What’s the Big Idea?

Dr Levi Garraway of Harvard and MIT, a senior researcher behind the second paper which profiled 24 drugs across nearly 500 cell lines, said, “Developing this large cell-line resource with all the associated genetic details is another piece in the pie to get us to our goal of personalised cancer medicine.” By better understanding the genetic information behind different kinds of tumor, scientists should be able to tailor drugs that can ‘switch off’ the tumor. Personalized medicine is already known to be successful in breast cancer cases where the drug Herceptin effectively treats patients with an overactive HER2 gene. 

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