Improving personalized therapy in breast cancer with patient-derived tumor organoids

Mikkel Green Terp

To develop and test novel therapeutic strategies for patients with cancer, it is important to have laboratory models that to a high degree mirror the clinical situation. Traditionally, animal models are used to develop and test new treatment strategies, as they reflect how a tumor behaves in a living organism. However, the use of animal models may be challenged by ethical considerations in relation to animal welfare. To find the best treatment strategy, it is necessary to test many different combinations of drugs. This often requires numerous animal experiments, in which the animals are treated daily with several different drugs, which can cause significant stress to the animals. Thus, there is a need for developing alternative models that can replace animals as the primary model to test new therapeutic strategies, so that the use of laboratory animals can be reduced.

New techniques enable us to isolate cancer cells from patients and grow them as small tumor clumps, called organoids, in the laboratory in plastic dishes. These organoids mimic the patient's tumor to a great extent, including how they respond to different drug treatments. In this project, we will use these organoids to examine the effect of several combinations of drugs and identify the drug combinations that seem to have the best effect. Subsequently, we will only test the best combinations in experimental animals and thus reduce the number of animal experiments with high stress.

We are convinced that this approach will improve the development of new and innovative drug treatment strategies for patients with cancer and at the same time reduce burdensome experiments in animals.


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