3D organoids to personalise cancer treatment

3D organoids to personalise cancer treatment
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3D organoids to personalise cancer treatment. In a first, scientists have derived a collection of 3D cultures or \"organoids\" from tumours of cancer patients that closely replicate key properties of the original tumours.

In a first, scientists have derived a collection of 3D cultures or "organoids" from tumours of cancer patients that closely replicate key properties of the original tumours. These "organoid" cultures or a living "biobank" can help detect genetic changes associated with drug sensitivity and pave the way for personalised cancer treatment.

"We believe that these organoids are an important new tool in the arsenal of cancer biologists and may ultimately improve our ability to develop more effective cancer treatments," explained senior study author Mathew Garnett, geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a non-profit organisation situated outside Cambridge.

In recent years, scientists have developed organoid cell culture systems as an alternative approach to grow normal and diseased tissue in a dish. In contrast to cell lines, organoids display the hallmarks of the original tissue in terms of its 3D architecture, the cell types present and their self-renewal properties.

In the new study, the researchers grew 22 organoids derived from tumour tissue from 20 patients with colorectal cancer and then sequenced genomic DNA isolated from these cultures. The genetic mutations in the organoid cultures closely matched those in the corresponding tumour biopsies and agreed well with previous large-scale analyses of colorectal cancer mutations.

"These findings confirm that the cultures faithfully capture the genomic features of the tumours from which they are derived as well as much of the genomic diversity associated with colorectal cancer," the authors noted. To link drug sensitivity to genetic changes, the researchers next screened the responses of the organoids to 83 experimental and approved cancer drugs.

Given their diverse genetic profiles, the organoids displayed a range of sensitivities to the drugs. "At some point in the future, this approach may be suitable for modelling individual patient response to cancer therapies to inform clinical treatment," Garnett noted. Moving forward, the researchers plan to develop an organoid biobank for other tumour types.

(The study appeared in the journal Cell)

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