Mini-tumours created in laboratory to battle cancer

Mini-tumours created in laboratory to battle cancer

Scientists have been able to predict how cancer patients will respond to therapy by growing miniature versions of their tumours in the laboratory, BBC reports.


The study in the journal Science was 100% accurate at telling which drugs would fail and this could spare patients from unnecessary side-effects.


Research work


Biopsies of 71 patients with advanced colorectal cancer were taken and then grown into miniature 3D cancerous organs in the laboratory by the scientific team.


The new scientific technique is in fact growing "organoids" and even tiny brains have been made in the lab. Researchers treated each organoid with the same drug doctors gave to the patient in the clinic.


The new scientific tool spares patients the brutal side-effects of a drug that will not work. Results could come in a couple of months.

The results

The results showed 2 basic principles:


  • If the drug worked in the organoids, it worked 88% of the time in the patient
  • If the drug failed in the organoids, it failed 100% of the time in the patient


For the first time we proved these organoids not only resembled the biology of metastatic cancer, but also mirror what we see in the clinic", commented  Dr Nicola Valeri, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London.


Previous attempts to predict how patients would respond to treatment included making "cancer avatars". That means  essentially mice with the patient's cancer growing in them.


But getting the answers quickly enough to inform treatment has always been the challenge.


"With this tool we can get results in a couple of months and I think we can get even faster", d-r Valeri said.