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Database of Cancer DNA Will Help Find Cures Faster

An international collaborative among four major research networks aims to create a faster way to develop better treatments and cures. The Human Cancer Models Initiative should speed up advances in treatments, as researchers can use a database while investigating how to cure different cancers.

Goal of the Project

The HCMI combines the resources of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom and Hubrecht Organoid Technology in the Netherlands. These agencies hope to create 1,000 cancer cell models as they conduct research all over the world. Each of these models grows a culture from a single cancer cell to make a single type of cancer with the same genetic components. Scientists from anywhere can access these culture samples through a database in hopes of finding a cure by experimenting on the DNA of tumors.

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How It Works

The database gives the exact genetic sequence of each tumor grown in the lab. Researchers can then use these genes to determine how the tumors develop, examine what happens at the cellular level and investigate how to destroy tumors as efficiently as possible. The database takes advantage of advanced cell culture techniques so labs can re-create genetic sequences of cells. The HCMI database protects patient privacy and clinical data, and it limits duplicate efforts within the scientific community, speeding up progress.

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What It Means

With the HCMI and related technology, labs can create specific treatments for specific tumors. This data-sharing may lead to methods of creating cultures of difficult-to-grow cancers, such as lymphomas. Medical researchers hope to create new 3-D cultures and models of cultures so doctors can determine what types of cancers are likely to become metastatic and how to treat these cancers in individual patients. This new collaboration should speed up cancer research.
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