Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Broad researchers reassess high throughput cancer screens with good results

Last week in Boston and I was informed that Broad rhymes with toad.  The way I was saying it was wrong, and in the absolute wrong context in casual conversation could be misconstrued into somewhat sexist statement.  So Broad, like toad, everybody!
For everyone else in the entire world who already knew that (my home state is infamous for saying things incorrectly, by the way, it's just how we roll), here is some really cool science that they are doing at the Broad Institute of MIT:

High throughput cancer drug screens normally work like this -- hundreds or thousands of plates, cells, or wells of immortalized cancer cells are grown under identical conditions.  An automated system doses each separate cell with a different prospective drug or dosage of said drug and the efficacy of the drug is recorded by means of the destruction of cells or the inhibition of cell division or something similar.

Researchers at the Broad took a step back and decided to make the system more physiologically relevant.  By mixing leukemia cells with normal stromal cells, they can more accurately mimic the microenvironment that these cells exist in.

What they found is that they can eliminate some false positives.  Some drugs will work on leukemia cells alone, but are protected by the presence of normal stromal cells.  Re-screening potential drugs with bring you to drugs that not only work in the well, but are also more likely to work under normal physiological conditions.

You can read more about it in this press release that I found through Twitter.

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