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NIH, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Others Collaborate on Cancer Cell Lines Bank

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – An international team of researchers has agreed to develop a repository of cancer cell culture models for the benefit of the global cancer research community.  

The National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and the Hubrecht Organoid Technology foundation, will jointly develop the Human Cancer Models Initiative, which will bring together expertise from around the world to create about 1,000 cancer cell models that can be used to study tumor progression and drug resistance, and to develop more effective treatments.

According to the partners, scientists will use new techniques to grow cell lines that better resemble the tissue architecture and complexity of human tumors than cell lines used today. The models will cover different types of tumors and could include samples from rare and pediatric cancer cases, which are often underrepresented or unavailable in existing cell line collections, they said.

The planned resource will also include sequencing data from the tumors and derived models, as well as clinical data from the contributing patients. All information related to the models will be shared in a way that protects patients' privacy, the partners added.

"As part of NCI's Precision Medicine Initiative in Oncology, 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," Louis Staudt, director of NCI's Center for Cancer Genomics, said in a statement. "This effort is a first step toward learning how to use these tools to develop individualized treatments."

This project means that "we can expand our resources for researchers around the world," Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical research and strategic partnerships, noted in a statement. "These new cell lines could transform how we study cancer and could help to develop better treatments for patients." The partnership will also support efforts to share protocols and standardize culturing methods, the team added.