Background: Cancer cell lines have a prominent role in the initial stages of drug discovery, facilitating high-throughput screening of potential drugs. However, their clinical relevance remains controversial.
Findings: We assess whether drug sensitivity in cancer cell lines is able to discriminate tissue specificity. We find that cancer-specific drugs do not show higher efficacies in cell lines representing the respective tissues. Even when considering distinct cancer subtypes and targeted therapies, most drugs are evenly effective/ineffective throughout all cell lines.
Conclusions: To get the most out of cell line panels, it will be necessary to look into their molecular characteristics, and integrate them into systems biology frameworks.