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New Models

The US National Cancer Institute is phasing out its panel of 60 human cancer cell lines in favor of fresh models, Nature News reports.

That panel of 60 cell lines has been in use for a quarter of a century and has been used to screen more than 100,000 compounds. But, as Nature News adds, when these lines were created, researchers had a different view of cancer

"Thirty years ago, the idea was that if you found a drug that worked on six breast cancer cell lines, then you could use it to treat breast cancer," James Doroshow, director of the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis at the NCI tells Nature News. "Well, it doesn't work that way."

The new models will instead be patient-derived xenografts that are grown in mice from samples of human tumors, and data on the tumor's genetic makeup and gene expression data will be available to researchers along with the patient-donor's treatment history.

"Such models promise to capture the genetic complexity of human cancers better than can old cell cultures or genetically engineered mice, but PDXs also have shortcomings," Nature News says. Namely, it adds, the mice in which they are grown lack immune systems, and immunotherapies have lately showed promise as cancer treatments.

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