Intrinsic or acquired drug resistance often limits the success of cancer treatment. Loss of function genetic screens can help identify mechanisms of drug resistance and thereby deliver strategies to combat resistance. A further application of these genetic screens is the identification of drug targets whose inactivation is only effective in a specific context. This synthetic lethality approach enables the identification of drugs that act only in cancer cells having a cancer-specific mutation and the discovery of potent combination therapies. This review focuses on the question how functional genetic screens can help to improve the treatment of cancer.
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