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New database for developing cancer treatments

Words by GOLD newsdesk

The world's largest database for predicting cancer treatment response based on cancer proteins has been developed by researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) in Sydney, Australia.

A protein map was developed for 949 cancer cell lines across more than 40 cancer types, all of which were tested with 650 different treatments. Advanced computational methods were then used to form predictions on the response of the cancer cells to various treatment.

The results from the paper, which was published in the journal Cancer Cell, hold significance as they also highlight vulnerabilities in cancer cells that can be considered when developing new treatments. The database forms a base for the ongoing efforts to predict the response of an individual cancer to specific cancer to drugs by examining the cancer’s proteins.

Clinical cancer specialists already know that measuring the quantities of a few specific proteins can help to determine the choice of treatment for particular cancer types. However, the thousands of other types of proteins have not been comprehensively mapped out before this, so have been unavailable for clinical use.

The cancer database, which is of unprecedented size for this type of data, is now being made available as a resource for cancer researchers and clinicians around the world.

Highlighting the benefits of the database in guiding drug development, Mathew Garnett, Senior Group Leader, Wellcome Sanger Institute, and author of the study, said: "In addition to revealing new insights about the biology of cancer, this study is also helping to fulfil the mission of my team to generate reference datasets for widespread use in the international cancer research community.”

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