NCI teams with European research centers to create cancer cell models, share data

Cancer cell

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has joined with three top European research institutions to create a globally accessible repository of 1,000 cancer cell models. NCI and its collaborators see the scheme as a way to avoid the duplication of research and, in doing so, cut the time it takes for the community to gain access to useful resources.

Cancer Research UK, fellow British research center the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Netherlands’ Hubrecht Organoid Technology have teamed up with NCI for the project. The program, dubbed the Human Cancer Models Initiative (HCMI), will see the four research centers pool their resources to advance the creation of cancer cell culture models that more closely mimic tumor tissue architecture and complexity than the tools that are used today.

“New cancer model derivation technologies are allowing us to generate even more and improved cancer models for research,” Mathew Garnett, group leader at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said in a statement. “A concerted and coordinated effort to make new models will accelerate this process, while also allowing for rapid learning, protocol sharing and standardized culturing methods.”

The optimism of Garnett and his collaborators is underpinned by improvements to the techniques used to grow cells and the advance of genome sequencing technologies. Equipped with these resources, the HCMI team is aiming to build models that support research into disease progression, drug resistance and the development of targeted therapeutics. These models, the sequencing data on which they are based and the clinical details of the patients who contributed samples will be made available.

NCI and its allies are hoping that, as well as improving on existing cell models, they will expand the pool of types of tools that are available. Specifically, HCMI is aiming to derive models from tissues from types of cancer that are currently underrepresented in the research toolkit, such as those that are rare or affect pediatric populations. This expansion is supported by the elimination of duplicated efforts at the four research sites, a shift that should free up time to create more esoteric models.

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