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.
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
, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Many 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