Micro-Organospheres Create Molecular Model of Patients’ Cancer in Just Two Weeks

November 16, 2022 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

Biomarker- and molecular-driven technologies such as molecular models can precisely predict how an individual’s cancer will respond to certain treatments, the pinnacle of precision oncology. However, established modeling systems such as patient-derived xenografts and patient-derived organoids require large tissue samples and take months or even a year to obtain results, barriers that have limited their application in regular practice.

Researchers discovered that a new technique using micro-organospheres can produce an accurate molecular model of a patient’s cancer and how it responds to potential treatment options in just 14 days using low-volume tissue samples. They published the findings (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2022.04.006) in Cell Stem Cell.

Using core needle biopsies from eight patients with newly diagnosed advanced colorectal cancer, the researchers created micro-organosphere molecular models for each patient in less than two weeks from the time of their biopsies and tested the models for response to oxaliplatin. The agent killed the micro-organospheres in 50% of the models, with the remaining models only mildly or unaffected.

All of the patients went on to receive oxaliplatin treatment. Those whose micro-organosphere models responded to oxaliplatin also experienced a reduction in tumor burden, whereas patients whose models were unaffected did not.

This is the first study of micro-organosphere molecular models, and the researchers acknowledged that the findings “are just a proof of concept. We need a larger study to have the data needed to determine whether the models precisely capture patients’ response to treatment.” The researchers are currently enrolling patients (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT05189171) for a follow-up study.

Learn more about molecular biomarkers for colorectal cancer (https://www.ons.org/cjon/24/6/molecular-biomarkers-review-multiple-applications-clinical-care-colorectal-cancer) in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.

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