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Cancer 'encyclopedia' to help personalize cancer care, scientists say


Bottles of prescription pills go through an automated packaging machine December 2, 2010 in Willingboro, New Jersey.


Stan Honda

A new cancer "encyclopedia" represents a step toward the routine personalizing of cancer care and will speed up the search for new cancer drugs, scientists say.

The Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE), produced by US researchers working with the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis and made freely available Wednesday, details how hundreds of different cancer cells respond to anti-cancer agents, according to the BBC.

The data provided in the encyclopedia will reportedly help researchers to match the right drug to the right target in the right cancer patient.

Another British-led team, meantime, has identified hundreds of genetic markers of drug sensitivity in cancer cells, according to the UK Press Association.

Both studies were published in the journal Nature

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Reuters reported that the cell lines documented in the CCLE were acquired from commercial vendors in the US, Europe, Japan and Korea and represented "a diverse picture of cancer as a disease as they include many subtypes of both common and rare forms of cancer."

The data, RTT News wrote, was placed on public domain so that many in industry and academia will use these data to discover new drug targets, to evaluate current therapies, and to facilitate treatment for their patients with cancer.

Some "personalized" drugs were already available, the Press Association wrote, including Herceptin, a breast cancer drug that only works for patients with an overactive HER2 gene.

The research has also suggested that a drug used for breast and ovarian cancers may be effective against Ewing’s sarcoma, a childhood bone cancer, the Boston Globe wrote.

"This is an invaluable resource, and in fact the term 'encyclopedia' is appropriate. It’s a monumental amount of work, which will be useful and used in the years to come," the Globe quoted Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi, scientific director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Cancer Center, as saying. "An encyclopedia will be enabling for many, many labs in many countries."

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