The NCI60 human tumour cell line anticancer drug screen


The US National Cancer Institute (NCI) 60 human tumour cell line anticancer drug screen (NCI60) was developed in the late 1980s as an in vitro drug-discovery tool intended to supplant the use of transplantable animal tumours in anticancer drug screening. This screening model was rapidly recognized as a rich source of information about the mechanisms of growth inhibition and tumour-cell kill. Recently, its role has changed to that of a service screen supporting the cancer research community. Here I review the development, use and productivity of the screen, highlighting several outcomes that have contributed to advances in cancer chemotherapy.

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Figure 1: The halichondrin B team.
Figure 2: Sample throughput of the NCI60.
Figure 3: Illustration of NCI60 data for bortezomib (Velcade, PS-341, NSC 681239).
Figure 4: Self-organizing map (SOM) projections of bortezomib and structurally related boronic acids.
Figure 5: Self-organizing map (SOM) projections of hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF1α) high-throughput screen active compounds.


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This paper is dedicated to the memory of K. D. Paull, a friend and collaborator to the many investigators involved in the development and operation of the NCI60. I thank J. Weinstein for critical review of the manuscript, and D. Scudiero, A. Monks, J. Laudeman and T. Silvers for their assistance in the generation of the illustrations.

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Shoemaker, R. The NCI60 human tumour cell line anticancer drug screen. Nat Rev Cancer 6, 813–823 (2006).

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