Our long-term vision is for the tool to be used as ‘standard’ in clinical decision-making for solid cancer treatment
The research provided new insight into how mutated cancer cells “mimic the growth signals” normally expressed by healthy cells – which allows cancer cells to grow unchecked. In this new study they have taken patients’ cells to develop mini-tumours, known as organoids, which are grown by embedding cancer stem cells in collagen in the lab. Each mini-tumour acts as an individual patient ‘avatar’ that can be studied in the lab. The UCL team have advanced their original technology to now study hundreds and thousands of patient mini-tumours at a time. This allows researchers to trial lots of different anti-cancer drugs to explore how an individual’s tumour might respond.
Lead author Dr Chris Tape (UCL Cancer Institute) said: “The screening platform enables us to observe cancer cells, alongside the healthy immune, fibroblast and stromal cells, and see how they respond to each other – so we can model how an individual patient’s cancer behaves. By treating the mini-tumours with different kinds of cancer treatments, the screening tool also allows us to observe how both the cancer and healthy cells respond – both equally as important – and determine which treatment could work best for a patient.”
While further validation will be required via clinical trial, researchers are hopeful the new tool could transform therapy selection for people diagnosed with solid cancers including colorectal, liver, breast and brain cancers. Dr Tape added: “Our long-term vision is for the tool to be used as ‘standard’ in clinical decision-making for solid cancer treatments. A patient would have a tumour removed during surgery, the tumour cells would be sent to a laboratory and grown into an organoid avatar, which would then be tested against different therapeutic options and analysed with single-cell resolution using this new technology. The lab would then relay the findings back to the clinician treating the patient, saying this patient responds best to this drug.”
Source: Healthcare in Europe