Bright field image of patient-derived organoids in culture. Credit: S.N. Ooft and M. Mertz

New test predicts how bowel cancer patients respond to chemo

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Dutch researchers have created a test that can help predict how patients with advanced bowel cancer will respond to chemotherapy. Before giving the patients in the trial the standard chemotherapy treatment irinotecan, they tested out how models of each patient’s own tumour responded to the drug in the lab, with predicted and actual responses matching 80 per cent of the time. They say their test could help identify patients who may not respond well to toxic chemotherapies to save them from the harsh side effects and the expense. It could also assist doctors in providing more personalised and efficient chemotherapy treatments.

Journal/conference: Science Translational Medicine

DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aay2574

Organisation/s: Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Media Release

From: AAAS

Patient-Derived Organoids Help Predict How Patients Respond to Chemotherapy

Researchers have created a test based on tumor organoids – or 3D tissue cultures – that can help predict how patients with advanced colorectal cancer (CRC) may respond to chemotherapy treatment. In a prospective clinical trial, their organoid-based test predicted responses in 80% of patients treated with the standard therapy irinotecan. Their system may help identify patients who may not respond to toxic chemotherapies and could ultimately assist clinicians in designing more personalized and efficient chemotherapy treatments.

Chemotherapy is considered the backbone of most cancer therapies, but many patients do not respond to treatment and experience severe side effects. Scientists have therefore made it a priority to develop methods that can predict which patients are most likely to benefit from chemotherapy drugs. However, many of these approaches have had only limited success or are still early in development.

Salo Ooft and colleagues created a new strategy that uses organoid models of a patient’s own tumor to predict how their cancer might respond to chemotherapy drugs. They gathered samples from 61 patients with metastatic CRC and used the tissue to generate organoids, which they treated with irinotecan either alone or in combination with the chemotherapy 5-FU.

The organoid system generally reflected how the patients responded to the treatments, correctly classifying 80% of patients treated with irinotecan. Furthermore, the organoids could be generated and screened within 21 days – a substantial improvement over previous systems that required two to six months of preparation. The researchers note the organoids could not predict how patients responded to a combination of 5-FU and the drug oxaliplatin. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that with further improvement, patient-derived organoids could help prevent cancer patients from receiving unnecessary irinotecan-based treatments.


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