Utilization of genomic signatures to identify phenotype-specific drugs.
Genetic and genomic studies highlight the substantial complexity and heterogeneity of human cancers and emphasize the general lack of therapeutics that can match this complexity. With the goal of expanding opportunities for drug discovery, we describe an approach that makes use of a phenotype-based screen combined with the use of multiple cancer cell lines. In particular, we have used the NCI-60 cancer cell line panel that includes drug sensitivity measures for over 40,000 compounds assayed on 59 independent cells lines. Targets are cancer-relevant phenotypes represented as gene expression signatures that are used to identify cells within the NCI-60 panel reflecting the signature phenotype and then connect to compounds that are selectively active against those cells. As a proof-of-concept, we show that this strategy effectively identifies compounds with selectivity to the RAS or PI3K pathways. We have then extended this strategy to identify compounds that have activity towards cells exhibiting the basal phenotype of breast cancer, a clinically-important breast cancer characterized as ER-, PR-, and Her2- that lacks viable therapeutic options. One of these compounds, Simvastatin, has previously been shown to inhibit breast cancer cell growth in vitro and importantly, has been associated with a reduction in ER-, PR- breast cancer in a clinical study. We suggest that this approach provides a novel strategy towards identification of therapeutic agents based on clinically relevant phenotypes that can augment the conventional strategies of target-based screens.
Mori, S; Chang, JT; Andrechek, ER; Potti, A; Nevins, JR
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