The NETRF/Broad Institute NET Cell Line Project aims to create publicly available neuroendocrine tumor cell lines to be shared with any researcher, in any laboratory, anywhere in the world. Having a reliable NET cell line could expedite our molecular understanding of NETs and accelerate drug testing.
Researchers at the Broad Institute will use a structured, scientific approach to develop and grow NET cell lines. They will be analyzed and validated in the laboratory for integrity, accuracy, and purity before replication. Once a NET cell line’s success is validated using standardized criteria for authentication, a portion of the samples will be preserved (by freezing), and others will be circulated as molecularly characterized cell models for study in laboratories around the world.
If one or more validated NET cell line can be created, the Broad team will screen a comprehensive library of 6,125 drug compounds on the NET cell lines. To overcome the time-consuming task of individually testing drugs on samples, the Broad uses bar-code systems to test pools of 25-500 cell lines at the same time. This expedited approach can determine whether any existing drugs not currently used to treat NETs can kill the NET cells.
Using the massive amounts of data collected from comprehensive DNA and RNA sequencing of tumors, scientists will try to isolate genomic alterations responsible for promoting and maintaining tumor growth with a cancer dependency map. Genomic alterations have been discovered, such as MEN1, DAXX, ATRX, CDKN1B, and others. But scientists don’t yet understand the role these alterations play in the development or advancement of disease.
Neuroendocrine tumor tissue donations needed
If you or a NET patient you know has an upcoming surgery, you can visit pattern.org to learn more about the NET cell line project. Pattern.org links to an electronic consent form where patients can provide consent if they wish to contribute tissue. Should a patient decide to provide consent, pattern.org arranges for excess tumor tissue to be collected at the hospital and shipped to Broad’s Cancer Cell Line Project Research Lab. There is no cost to the patient or the healthcare institution.