Cancer Organoids for Personalized Medicine
Personalized cancer therapy aims to apply the most efficient treatment for each patient. Too often for cancer patients time is short to try several drugs hoping to find the appropriate treatment to slow the progression of the disease. Recently, lab-grown mini tumors derived from patients’ cells have emerged as a promising platform and could offer a way to test many drugs in parallel, saving precious time.
Cancer organoids are miniature, three-dimensional cell culture models that can be made from primary patient tumors and studied in the laboratory. These three-dimensional models allow culturing cancer cells in a spatially relevant manner. Extensive experimental evidence has shown that the stiffness of the matrix affects cell growth and morphology. Some of the 3D scaffolds being used currently are collagen or Matrigel gels which have the major drawback of presenting very low rigidity, which does not mimic the naturally stiff cancer environment. Biogelx provide peptide hydrogels which are mechanically tunable and allow the formation of scaffolds that are mechanically stronger or matrices that match the desired stiffness found in the tissue in vivo. Biogelx hydrogels are chemically tunable as well, and provide biomimetic sequences to mimic the ECM in a defined manner. This might be especially important because to result in accurate predictions of drug responses in patients, the tumor organoids would have to conserve the molecular and cellular composition of the original tumor, as well as similar physiological properties, cell growth, and activity.
Lately, several studies have highlighted the application of tumor organoids in precision cancer medicine particularly in terms preclinical drug screening and predicting patient responses to selected treatment regimens. But in this work conducted by researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, UK, it has been shown for the first time on a large number of cases that patient derived organoids are predictive of response. Actually, the authors showed how if a drug did not work on the patient’s organoids, then it did not work in the patient either. And in almost 90% of the patients, if a drug worked on the patients’ organoids, then it worked in the patient. Therefore, it is possible to use patients’ organoids for screening drug candidates which opens promising avenues for cancer treatment in the future.
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Source: G. Vlachogiannis et al. “Patient-derived organoids model treatment response of metastatic gastrointestinal cancers,” Science, 359:920-26, 2018.