Analysis of Mutations in Cancer Cell Lines Could Enhance Personalized Treatment

Similarities between laboratory cancer cells and patient tumor samples could create more personalized treatment.

A recent study found that cancer cell lines and patient tumor samples have similar genetic changes, which could lead to improved personalized treatments.

"In this study we compared the genetic landscape of patient tumors with that of cancer cells grown in the lab,” said the leader of the study Mathew Garnett, PhD. “We found that cell lines do carry the same genetic alterations that drive cancer in patients. This means that drug sensitivity testing in cell lines can be used to figure out how a tumor is likely to respond to a drug."

Included in the study, published by Cell, were 11,000 patient samples of 29 tumor types. Researchers created a catalog of cancer-causing genetic changes, and mapped the mutations onto 1000 cancer cell lines.

Then, researchers tested the cancer cell lines sensitivity to 265 drugs and found that a majority of molecular abnormalities in patient cancers were seen in laboratory cancer cells, according to the study. Researchers also found that these abnormalities can also effect the efficacy of a particular drug, suggesting these abnormalities could provide information about the most effective treatment.

“We need better ways to figure out which groups of patients are more likely to respond to a new drug before we run complex and expensive clinical trials. Our research shows that cancer cell lines do capture the molecular alterations found in tumors, and so can be predictive of how a tumor will respond to a drug,” study leader Ultan McDermott, PhD, concluded. “This means the cell lines could tell us much more about how a tumour is likely to respond to a new drug before we try to test it in patients. We hope this information will ultimately help in the design of clinical trials that target those patients with the greatest likelihood of benefiting from treatment.”