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Exploring high-throughput drug sensitivity testing in neuroblastoma cell lines and patient-derived tumor organoids in the era of precision medicine

Despite druggable events in 80% of neuroblastoma patients within the Princess Máxima Center precision medicine program 'iTHER', clinical uptake of treatment recommendations has been low, and the clinical impact for individual patients remains hard to predict. This stresses the need for a method integrating genomics and transcriptomics with functional approaches into therapeutic decision making. We aimed to launch an online repository integrating genomics and transcriptomics with high-throughput drug screening (HTS) of nineteen commonly used neuroblastoma cell lines and fourteen generated neuroblastoma patient-derived organoids (NBL-PDOs) to improve identification of molecularly matched therapies and support clinical uptake. Cell lines, NBL-PDOs and their parental tumors were characterized utilizing (lc)WGS, WES and RNAseq. Cells were exposed to a ~200 compound library, and viability was assessed using CellTiterGlo or MTT. Molecular and HTS results were transferred to the R2 platform (, in which a comprehensive suite of visualizations and analysis options were implemented. As a result, a powerful reference set of cell lines is available, reflecting distinct known pharmacologic vulnerabilities, including resistance of TP53-inactivated lines to MDM2 inhibitor idasanutlin; ALK-inhibitor sensitivity in ALK-activated lines, and sensitivity of an ATM-deleted cell line to PARP- and CHEK1-inhibitors. Novel established NBL-PDOs retained molecular features of their parental tumor and again reflected established drug sensitivities. However, HTS also identified additional therapeutic vulnerabilities in vitro, such as a striking correlation between a positive mesenchymal signature and sensitivity to BCL2-inhibitor venetoclax. Finally, we explored personalized drug sensitivities within iTHER, demonstrating HTS can support genomic and transcriptomic results, thereby strengthening the rationale for clinical uptake. Furthermore, in vitro insensitivity may avoid ineffective treatments. Lastly, novel treatment options may be identified, as indicated by sensitivity to ponatinib correlating with overexpression of RET or KIT. In conclusion, we established a dynamic publicly available dataset with detailed genomic, transcriptomic, and pharmacological annotation of classical neuroblastoma cell lines as well as NBL-PDOs, representing the heterogeneous landscape of neuroblastoma. We anticipate that in vitro drug screening will be complementary to genomic-guided precision medicine by supporting clinical decision making, thereby improving prognosis for all neuroblastoma patients in the future.

Click on a Dataset ID in the table below to learn more, and to find out who to contact about access to these data

Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001010281 17
EGAD00001010282 17
EGAD00001010283 9