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News / 01.18.23

Cancer Dependency Map Consortium accelerates research into tumor vulnerabilities

By Broad Communications

Academic-industrial collaboration, now with 19 industry members, expands efforts to identify new cancer targets.

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard's Cancer Dependency Map Consortium, an academic-industrial partnership program that was first announced in 2019, is accelerating its research into tumor vulnerabilities and identifying key biomarkers. As the consortium enters a new phase, a total of 19 pharmaceutical and biotechnology organizations are partnering in this project.  

The Cancer Dependency Map Consortium supports the Broad’s Cancer Dependency Map (DepMap) initiative, which aims to accelerate precision cancer medicine by creating a comprehensive map of tumor vulnerabilities. DepMap is using large-scale functional genomics and PRISM therapeutic agent response profiling across large panels of cancer models to create a systematic overview — or “map” — of the genetic dependencies and compound sensitivities of each type of cancer and the predictive biomarkers that point to patient populations most likely to benefit.

"The renewed commitment from the DepMap Consortium demonstrates the deep and sustained collaborative alignment of our partners with Broad scientists as they deploy cutting-edge functional genomic tools towards the goal of enabling community-wide identification of the best therapeutic targets for cancer patients,” said William Sellers, core institute member at the Broad and director of the institute’s Cancer Program

DepMap Consortium industry partners are: 

  • AbbVie
  • Amgen
  • AstraZeneca
  • Bayer AG
  • Bristol Myers Squibb
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Calico Life Sciences
  • Genentech, a member of the Roche Group
  • GSK
  • IDEAYA Biosciences
  • Incyte
  • Janssen Biotech, Inc.
  • Loxo@Lilly
  • Merck
  • Odyssey Therapeutics 
  • Pfizer
  • Repare Therapeutics
  • Scorpion Therapeutics
  • Servier

Over the last three years, the DepMap Consortium has collaborated to develop the most comprehensive resource to identify cancer vulnerabilities by creating datasets at scale, cutting-edge computational tools, and more sophisticated visualization tools that together have accelerated the discovery of novel targets and biomarkers. 

Although the DepMap resource has provided much value to the consortium and the larger scientific community, additional work remains to comprehensively identify vulnerabilities across cancer. The Consortium's new strategic plan will tackle this by expanding DepMap in new areas. 

The newest iteration of the DepMap Consortium will expand to include underrepresented genotypes, rare cancers, and 3D patient-derived models. The research will incorporate new perturbations, such as combinatorial CRISPR screens and screening of biologics, as well as new -omics profiling modalities. Novel machine learning methods and improved computational pipelines will be developed toward the goal exploiting the data for the discovery of new therapeutic opportunities.  

“I’m delighted about what the Consortium has accomplished and the amazing infrastructure we have developed in the past three years,” said Francisca Vazquez, director of the Cancer Dependency Map project at the Broad Institute. “We have just scratched the surface, however, and I am excited for this next phase of the project, where we will use new screening and profiling modalities and accelerate our progress toward the systematic discovery of cancer vulnerabilities.”

Consortium partners bring their expertise and perspectives while benefiting from early access to the data, portal, and tools and the ability to analyze their proprietary data with DepMap data. 

“Working with the Broad Institute as a DepMap Consortium member highlights our ambition for data-driven drug discovery across the oncology pipeline. The data, tools, and expertise that developed from this partnership had a tangible impact on our cancer research projects, including translational and clinical development aspects for key priority assets,” said Jan Nygaard Jensen, head of Global Computational Biology and Digital Sciences at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Over the next few years, the DepMap Consortium will focus on new technical development activities aimed at increasing the scale, precision, and breadth of the Cancer Dependency Map, setting the stage for the decade ahead.

To learn more about the Cancer Dependency Map, see the Cancer Dependency Map webpage and DepMap Portal. For interest in the DepMap Consortium, contact the DepMap Alliance Management team at dmcalliance@broadinstitute.org.