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Novartis, Broad Institute Launch The Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG (NVS: Quote) has teamed up with US researchers associated with the company along with the Broad Institute to launch Wednesday the "Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia" (CCLE) that will help the common man as well as cancer research community.

The data provided in the encyclopedia will help researchers to match the right drug to the right target in the right cancer patient. The data is placed on public domain so that "many in industry and academia will use these data to discover new drug targets, to evaluate current therapies, and to facilitate treatment for their patients with cancer."

Parsippany, New Jersy-based Novartis and the Broad Institute have developed the encyclopedia. The collaboration was published in the journal 'Nature' and released in advance online today. The Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia will provide scientists with the ability to build predictive models of what types of patients will respond to a particular class of drugs.

The encyclopedia, a public resource, catalogs the world's cancer cell lines and provides a comprehensive information of genetic and molecular details for nearly 1,000 cancer cell lines. The information will help in designing of cancer trials and advance cancer research.

It is a compilation of gene expression, chromosomal copy number and massively parallel sequencing data from 947 human cancer cell lines. When coupled with pharmacological profiles for 24 anticancer drugs across 479 of the cell lines, this collection allowed identification of genetic, lineage, and gene-expression-based predictors of drug sensitivity.

"Cancer is a genetic disease. Cell lines reflect the genetic disturbances that drive cancers. Probing cell lines with medicines targeted at specific pathways, as done for the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia, provides a powerful tool for design of cancer treatment," said Mark Fishman, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

The company revealed that cell lines were acquired from commercial vendors across the world in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea and represents a diverse picture of cancer as a disease as they include many subtypes of both common and rare forms of cancer.

The data collected was then genetically characterized and pharmacologic profiling done for several drugs in about half of the cell lines. Further, algorithms were developed to predict drug responses based on the genetic and molecular makeup of cancer cells.

The company noted that pairing this information with ways to rapidly genotype patient tumor samples represents the next step in the effort to enable the personalization of cancer treatment. The encyclopedia is still an ongoing project and the associated data are not final nor complete.

NVS closed Wednesday's regular trading session unchanged at $55.39 on a volume of 1.75 million.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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