The Newest Precision Medicine Tool: Prostate Cancer Organoids

Posted: September 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm

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Newswise NEW YORK, NY, September 4, 2014 Research led by investigators at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has shown for the first time that organoids derived from human prostate cancer tumors can be grown in the laboratory, giving researchers an exciting new tool to test cancer drugs and personalize cancer treatment.

The researchers, whose results were published today in Cell, successfully grew six prostate cancer organoids from biopsies of patients with metastatic prostate cancer and a seventh organoid from a patients circulating tumor cells. Organoids are three-dimensional structures composed of cells that are grouped together and spatially organized like an organ. The histology, or tissue structure, of the prostate cancer organoids is highly similar to the metastasis sample from which they came. Sequencing of the metastasis samples and the matched organoids showed that each organoid is genetically identical to the patients cancer from which it originated.

Identifying the molecular biomarkers that indicate whether a drug will work or why a drug stops working is paramount for the precision treatment of cancer, said Yu Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Attending Physician in the Genitourinary Oncology Service and Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at MSK. But we are limited in our capacity to test drugs especially in the prostate cancer setting, where only a handful of prostate cancer cell lines are available to researchers.

With the addition of the seven prostate cancer organoids described in the Cell paper, Dr. Chens team has effectively doubled the number of existing prostate cancer cell lines.

We now have a new resource at our disposal that captures the molecular diversity of prostate cancer. This will be an invaluable tool we can use to test drug sensitivity, he added.

The use of organoids in studying cancer is relatively new, but the field is exploding quickly according to Dr. Chen. In 2009, Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, of the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands demonstrated that intestinal stem cells could form organoids. Dr. Clevers is the lead author on a companion piece also published in Cell today that describes how to create healthy prostate organoids. Dr. Chens paper is the first to demonstrate that organoids can be grown from prostate cancer samples.

The prostate cancer organoids can be used to test multiple drugs simultaneously, and Dr. Chens team is already retrospectively comparing the drugs given to each patient against the organoids for clues about why the patient did or didnt respond to therapy. In the future, its possible that drugs could be tested on a patients organoid before being given to the patient to truly personalize treatment.

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men about 233,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2014. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in men; 1 in 36 men will die of the disease.

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The Newest Precision Medicine Tool: Prostate Cancer Organoids

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