Scientists at the National Cancer Institute have released the most comprehensive database on cancer-related genetic variations to enable researchers to find innovative methods to target treatment for the disease. The world-wide open-access database is based on genomic studies, and aims to accelerate the drug discovery process according to the genetic match of the patients.
Most cancer treatments are based on trial-and-error method; doctors do not have a way to determine how a particular patient would respond to commonly used drugs or chemotherapy, or which cancers will develop resistance. The NCI team sequenced 60 human cancer cell lines, generating an extensive list of cancer-specific variations. The database was published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
AdvertisementMany of the recently approved cancer drugs are designed to specifically block selected pathways that the cancer cells use to grow and reproduce. Before the drugs are administered, patients should be tested for the specific genetic mutations that would make the drug more likely to be beneficial to them.
For instance, the melanoma drug "Zelboraf," sold by Roche, is designed to work by targeting a specific genetic mutation found commonly in about half of all melanomas. Pfizer Inc's drug Xalkori, targets a mutation in the ALK gene, and it works in about 4-5 percent of lung cancer patients. The database is expected to encourage more such approaches to enable us to take a giant leap closer towards personalized medicine.