Tackling Cancer with Organoids

NAVS sees the promise of using organoid models to advance our understanding of basic human biology and disease in a human-relevant, animal-free way, which is why we fund organoid research through the International Foundation for Ethical Research.

We are particularly excited to share with you some developments in using organoids to find therapies for cancer, a leading cause of death worldwide, from an article recently published in Science News.

Cancer researchers know that the molecular changes driving cancer differ from person to person. As a result, we have seen increasing interest in the development of personalized cancer models that can help guide physicians in selecting the treatments that will work best for their patients. While some researchers have turned to mice to generate personalized models to study the disease (an approach that is fraught with limitations), others are working with organoids instead.

Because organoids can be made from patient-specific cancer cells, personalized mini 3D tumor models can be generated to quickly screen many drugs in an effort to find patient-specific treatments. A research team led by UCLA cancer biologist Alice Soragni recently reported that they had developed an automated approach to screen hundreds of drugs at once, and within “a time frame that is therapeutically actionable—one to two weeks from surgery.”  This is much timelier than creating mouse avatars, which has been reported to take three-six months.

Importantly, this approach to guiding treatment for cancer patients has shown preliminary success. The research team reported that they have used the approach to test 430 drugs on 3D tumors from a boy who had a rare bone cancer. In this case, the resarchers identified eight promising drugs, half of which would not normally be considered for his type of cancer.

The team also reported positive findings for ovarian tumors, noting they were able to identify promising treatments for that kind of cancer as well.

According to Hans Clevers, a leading organoid researcher at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands, “It makes sense to test cancer drugs on cancer cells outside the body first, before selecting the best one to be given to the patient. This field will definitely grow rapidly.”

We look forward to the expanded use of organoids as standard human-relevant models in cancer research—and many other areas of science—and will continue to share with you the progress that is made using these important research tools.

Please help NAVS continue to fund the development of organoids—and other promising human-relevant models—by making a donation today.

This entry was posted in News and tagged on February 25, 2019.
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