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By Ackerman Cancer Center

on 02/26/2018

Mini Tumors Predict Effectiveness of Cancer Treatment

British researchers are using mini tumors to test the effectiveness of cancer therapies in the hope the new technique could provide faster results and help identify the most effective treatment for the individual patient.

Using biopsies from patients with advanced colorectal cancer to grow mini 3D cancerous organs (organoids) in the lab, scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research in London tested the effectiveness of treatments on the miniature organs and discovered the results were 100 percent accurate.

The scientists found that when a drug worked in the organoids, 88 percent of the time, it also worked in the patient. Drugs that failed in the organoids also failed in the patient every single time.

It is hoped the exciting new scientific technique could lead to more effective, less traumatic treatment. Avoiding the use of ineffective drugs could save valuable time and protect the patient from harsh side-effects of a drug that will not work.

In the past, scientists have used mice infected with a specific cancer to predict patient response to treatment. However, with a response rate of between six to eight months, the answers were not always timely enough to inform treatment. Using organoids, results are achieved within a couple of months.

Although the micro tumor testing isn’t yet available to patients, the groundbreaking research is one step closer to personalized medicine. It could also help determine the most effective treatment therapies while avoiding unnecessary toxicity.

Other examples of personalized medicine in cancer care include the use of treatments that target a patient’s specific genes and proteins to halt the growth of cancer cells as well as studying how specific genes affect the way the body processes and responds to medications. 

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