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Scientists test 5,000 combinations of 100 existing cancer drugs to find more effective treatments
Date:11/6/2012

to clinical trials.

"In order to provide a resource for understanding the efficacy of drug combinations, we have undertaken a systematic screening of most small molecule oncology drugs approved in the US, each in combination with all the others. This was done using a panel of human tumour cell lines derived from nine different types of cancer.

"We chose to test the combinations in the NCI-60 panel a group of diverse cell lines that our programme has used for many years to screen potential new drugs because we have a lot of information about these cell lines. For instance, mutations, gene expression, microRNA expression and so on have all been characterised, and this enables us to analyse the cell lines that benefit from a particular combination and potentially identify markers in those cell lines that might also be used as biomarkers in patients."

The researchers have found that some combinations have shown benefit in many cell lines, while others are active in just a few cell lines. When some of the new combinations were tested in human tumours grafted into mice, they were found to be more effective than the most active doses of single drugs.

"These results are promising but we need to repeat and confirm them," said Dr Holbeck. "Our goal is to rapidly translate several novel combinations into clinical trials. There will be many more leads than we can possibly follow through on. Once these data are published, the dataset, and tools to analyse it, will be made available on our web site for all to utilise as they wish.

"To our knowledge this is the first systematic characterisation of approved drugs in a large number of cancer cell lines. We are not making any assumptions about which combinations will give improved activity. The use of many diverse cancer cell lines allows data mining for markers of response that would not be possible with a small set of cell lines.

"Many groups are focusing on 'rational' co
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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