As part of DTP’s Molecular Targets Program, samples of protein, DNA, and RNA from human tumor cell lines are distributed to the intramural and extramural research communities. Cell lines also are sent to extramural researchers who measure the expression levels of various proteins or determine the status (e.g., wild type or mutant) of certain oncogenes. By using these measurements, DTP can determine whether the sensitivity of the set of human tumor cell lines is related to the expression levels of the compound that was measured.
Once the results are collected, the molecular target data are posted to the DTP website. The program’s goal is to correlate anticancer activity with molecular target measurements to identify cell lines with desired characteristics and to perform this work at a low cost. Since the early 1990s, nearly 300 research groups have contributed to the molecular characterization of the NCI-60 panel of human tumor cell lines, which the DTP uses to screen potential new agents for anticancer activity. To date, over 300,000 measurements have been completed, with 132,000 available to the public.