Genomic Analysis Reveals Differences Between Cancer Cell Lines and Human Cancers

Genomic Analysis Reveals Differences Between Cancer Cell Lines and Human Cancers
New research using "big data" helps highlight the differences between breast cancer cell lines and actual patient samples. This could allow researchers to choose models that more accurately reflect what actually happens in people. The study, "Evaluating cell lines as models for metastatic breast cancer through integrative analysis of genomic data," was published in the journal Nature Communications. Nearly all cancer research uses cell lines. (When scientists study cancer cells in dishes, it's nearly always a cell line.) These lines typically are made by taking cancer cells from a patient, which then are — either via some modification or just plain old natural selection — able to grow in dishes, often for many cellular generations. But cells growing in dishes, and tumor cells growing and spreading in a human body, are very different things. "The differences between cell lines and tumor samples have raised the critical question to what extent cell lines can capture the makeup of tumors," Bin Chen, PhD, an author of the study and professor at Michigan State University, said in a press release. To try to answer this question, researchers took advantage of the wide breadth of information — so-called "big data" — available through projects like The Cancer Genome Atlas, Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia, and Gene Expression Om
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