Screening of drugs made easy with DNA barcode

Screening of drugs made easy with DNA barcode

(Source : Nature Biotechnology 2016)


Screening a large number of drug compounds against a large number of cells lines has never been possible, until now. Researchers from Broad Institute developed a DNA barcoding system to tag hundreds of cancer cell lines with different mutations for the high throughput screening of practically thousands of compounds in multi-well plates.

Using drug screening procedure, scientists are constantly looking for compounds that kill particular strains of cancerous cells while keep the healthy ones alive. However, once these cells have been mixed together in a petri dish, it is almost impossible to tell if the drug works as they should.

This is where PRISM platform comes in. Todd Golub and colleagues created a way to tag cancerous cells using a 24-nt DNA codes by stably integrating the code into cell’s genome using modified virus. The tagged cells are then identified through Luminex microsphere system where the number of cells in each cell strain can be accurately quantified. With experiments performed in mice and in a dish, Todd’s findings showed that DNA barcodes can accelerate the process of identifying the right treatment to combat a particular strain of cancer in a pool of mixed cell types. This is an important development as the biggest impediments in precision medicine so far has been caused by slow pace of drug evaluation. Such a technology offer hope to make the goal of large-scale compound testing to find precise and effective treatments for patients feasible.

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