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Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP)
Last Updated: 08/26/15

NCI-60 Human Tumor Cell Lines Screen


The NCI-60 Human Tumor Cell Lines Screen has served the global cancer research community for >20 years. The screen was implemented in fully operational form in 1990 and utilizes 60 different human tumor cell lines to identify and characterize novel compounds with growth inhibition or killing of tumor cell lines. It is designed to screen up to 3,000 small molecules (synthetic or purified natural products) per year for potential anticancer activity. The operation of this screen utilizes 60 different human tumor cell lines, representing leukemia, melanoma and cancers of the lung, colon, brain, ovary, breast, prostate, and kidney cancers.

This screen is unique in that the complexity of a 60 cell line dose response produced by a given compound results in a biological response pattern which can be utilized in pattern recognition algorithms (COMPARE). Using these algorithms, it is possible to assign a putative mechanism of action to a test compound, or to determine that the response pattern is unique and not similar to that of any of the standard prototype compounds included in the NCI database. In addition, following characterization of various cellular molecular targets in the 60 cell lines, it may be possible to select compounds most likely to interact with a specific molecular target.

This screen also allows prioritization of selected agents for further evaluation by NCI in collaboration with the submitter. The screening service is offered at no cost to submitters, other than shipping costs, although requests are reviewed and only those conforming to defined guidelines are selected for screening. There is a limit of 10 structure submission requests per 30 day period.