Scientists of the Hubrecht Institute, part of the Royal Dutch Academy of Science (KNAW), and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a British research centre for genetics, have developed a 3D model for colon cancer. According to their publication in Cell, the model mimics the original tumour so accurately, it can predict which cancer therapy will work in the patient.
The study was conducted with organoids, cell clusters that resemble the original organ by architecture, cell-type composition and self-renewal dynamics. By growing organoids from stem cells derived from tumour and healthy colon tissue, the researchers were able to compare mutation statuses, RNA expression and susceptibility for cancer treatments between healthy and cancerous tissue.
"Every tumour is different, even those that arise in the same organ. They each have a mixture of cells with different mutations that subsequently determines if a treatment will be effective", explains Dr Hayley Francies, an author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Organoids replicate the features of patient tumours. This gives us a more realistic environment in which to test new and existing drugs.”
One of the co-authors, Mathew Garnett, a geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, says: "At some point in the future, this approach may be suitable for modelling individual patient response to cancer therapies to inform clinical treatment.” However, it will take some time before the use of organoids is sufficiently optimised and standardised to use for personalised medicine. Until then, the technique will be used to develop new cancer treatments. This way, organoids may bridge the gap between cancer genetics and clinical trials.
Sources: Eurekalert, Cell
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