A new international project has been developed to improve the quality and number of cancer cell culture models available to the scientific community. The Human Cancer Models Initiative hopes to generate 1,000 human-relevant cancer cell lines within the next three years.
While many human cancer cell lines already exist, the new models will be paired with additional features to increase their usefulness, such as genetic analyses and clinical data about the donor patients from which the cell lines were derived, as well as how well those patients responded to their cancer therapies. Newer cell culture
techniques, including growth of cells in three-dimensional organoids, will be used to create these models, so that the architecture and complexity of the tumor cells are more accurately reflected.
Researchers plan to use these tools to model various types of cancer, better understand disease progression and drug resistance, and screen for new cancer therapies.
Dr. Louis Staudt, Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Genomics stated, “This new project is timed perfectly to take advantage of the latest cell culture and genomic sequencing techniques to create models that are representative of patient tumors and are annotated with genomic and clinical information. This effort is a first step toward learning how to use these tools to design individualized treatments.”
Unfortunately, however, this project is being coupled with another effort to study cancer patient tumor samples that are grown in mice, even though this approach has well-known shortcomings. Among these are the influence that a mouse “microenvironment”—the cells, blood vessels and molecules surrounding the tumor—may have on the growth of a human tumor.
The generation of novel, well-characterized, human cancer cell lines is an important step in the battle against cancer. NAVS believes that efforts should be focused on the generation of more sophisticated in vitro models, rather than animal models, to accelerate progress in the research of a disease that impacts so many people.
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Global initiative seeks 1,000 new cancer models
July 11, 2016
An international collaboration of cancer-research heavy-weights aims to grow 1,000 new cell lines for scientists to study—and that could be just the beginning.
For more information, see: Nature