MONTREAL, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - A bioinformatics expert at the
IRCM, Benjamin Haibe-Kains, recently published an article stressing the
importance of standardizing drug screening studies in the prestigious
scientific journal Nature. The study supports the need for further development and
standardization to improve the reproducibility of drug screening
studies, as they are important in identifying new therapeutic agents
and their potential combinations with existing drugs.
Dr. Haibe-Kains's article investigated results from two large-scale
pharmacogenomic studies - the Cancer Genome Project (CGP) and the
Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE) - published last year in Nature. The main goal of these studies was to identify genomic biomarkers that
could predict patients' response to anticancer drugs. Because cancer
patients often exhibit varied responses to anticancer treatments, and
evidence indicates that response is determined in part by
patient-specific genome alterations, cancer cell line studies have long
been used to test the efficacy of therapeutic agents and explore
genomic factors associated with drug response. These two studies
screened multiple new and approved drugs on nearly 1,000 panels of
cancer cell lines, of which 15 drugs and 471 cell lines were common.
"These studies provided us with a unique opportunity to look at the
reproducibility of biomarker discovery in preclinical settings," says
Dr. Haibe-Kains, Director of the Bioinformatics and Computational
Biology research unit at the IRCM. "Our objective was to examine the
uniformities and inconsistencies between results from the two
independent studies, and assess the potential of building predictive
models of drug response on the basis of those results."
Dr. Haibe-Kains and his research team observed overall good consistency
of genomic profiles, which contain information about all the genes in
the body and can be used to determine response to a drug. However, drug
sensitivity measurements used in the two studies were highly
"We believe the reasons for such differences include the lack of
standardization in experimental assays and data analysis methods," adds
Dr. Haibe-Kains. "For example, the studies tested different drug
concentrations and used different statistical models to analyze their
data. In addition, due to discrepancies in drug sensitivity data, some
potential biomarkers were inconsistent between the two studies."
"These pharmacogenomic studies are generally the first step in a larger
experimental pipeline where candidate drugs and biomarkers are further
validated in animal studies and human clinical trials," explains Dr.
Haibe-Kains. "Our findings support the need for standardization of
drug-response measurements or the development of new, robust drug
sensitivity assays in order to identify reliable genomic predictors of
drug response or effectively identify a drug's mechanism of action."
"It is important to note that our study and the resulting observations
could not have been possible if the data had not been well documented
and made accessible to the scientific community," concludes Dr.
Haibe-Kains. "This represents a big success for open data science and
reproducible research, and we would like to thank the investigators
from the CGP and CCLE studies who made their invaluable data available
to researchers everywhere. Without this data, we would not have been
able to discover the discrepancies. We now need to work together to
improve the reproducibility of large-scale screening studies so that we
can identify new therapeutic agents and their potential combinations
with existing drugs."
The study was conducted in collaboration with Nehme El-Hachem from the
IRCM, and researchers from the Technical University of Denmark and the
Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
For more information, please refer to the article summary published
online by Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12831.html#access.
About the IRCM
Founded in 1967, the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (www.ircm.qc.ca) is currently comprised of 36 research units in various fields, namely
immunity and viral infections, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases,
cancer, neurobiology and development, systems biology and medicinal
chemistry. It also houses four specialized research clinics, eight core
facilities and three research platforms with state-of-the-art
equipment. The IRCM employs 425 people and is an independent
institution affiliated with the Université de Montréal. The IRCM Clinic
is associated to the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal
(CHUM). The IRCM also maintains a long-standing association with McGill
University. The IRCM is funded by the Quebec ministry of Higher
Education, Research, Science and Technology.
SOURCE: Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM)
For further information:
and to schedule an interview with Dr. Haibe-Kains, please contact:
Communications Officer (IRCM)
Communications Director (IRCM)