Scientists in the United States have tested all possible pairings of the 100 cancer drugs approved for use in patients in order to discover whether there are any combinations not tried previously that are effective in certain cancers.
Dr Susan Holbeck (PhD), a biologist in the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis at the National Cancer Institute (USA) will tell the 24th EORTC-NCI-AACR  Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Dublin, Ireland, today (Wednesday) that she and her colleagues have completed testing the 100 drugs, with 300,000 experiments to test the 5000 possible drug combinations in a panel of 60 cell lines developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI-60 panel). "The goal is to identify novel drug combinations that are more active than the single agents alone. Since these are all approved agents, there is the potential to rapidly translate these combinations into the clinic," she will say.
Cancer treatments often use a combination of drugs, as a single drug rarely produces a long-lasting response due to the cancer becoming drug resistant. Some drug combinations have evolved over time by incorporating new agents into existing standards of care, while many newer treatments try to select combinations of drugs that target particular pathways that are known to be involved in the development of the cancer. However, some combinations can be so toxic that they have to be used at lower doses that may not be effective against the cancer.
"In addition, there are a large number of drug combinations that have never been used together in people, and for which there is no experimental information on whether there might a benefit to the combination," said Dr Holbeck. "We decided that it would be a feasible project to generate experimental data for all 5000 possible combinations of pairs, and that we would make these data available to all to enable additional experiments in support of taking new combinations
|Contact: Emma Mason|
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation