There is a great deal of interest in developing personalized therapy for cancer based on the knowledge that cancer is a heterogeneous group of diseases and that individual patient characteristics as well as individual tumor characteristics can affect the response of a patient to drug treatment. An example of such personalized therapy is the subtyping of breast tumor tissue for estrogen receptors before choosing what type of chemotherapy to administer, where the presence of these hormone receptors in tumor tissue are predictive of responsiveness of the cancer to endocrine therapy.
Dartmouth scientists have now developed an extracellular matrix-based three dimensional (3D) culture system for use in ex vivo characterization of tumors from individual cancer patients to determine the response of such tumors to single agent or combination drug treatments. Unlike cells on tissue culture-treated plastic plates, this 3D culture system can be used to test drugs against different sizes of epithelial structures. Moreover, compared to conventional culture systems with a bedding of 100% extracellular matrix gel that encourages polarization and differentiation, the inventive 3D culture system creates a harsher microenvironment that may expose more overtly the aggressiveness and chemoresistance of cells, thereby allowing for testing of both growth promoting and growth-inhibitory pathways. In this respect, the inventive high-throughput 3D culture system can be used to rapidly assess the response of cancerous tissue biopsies to any potential therapeutic strategy, ranging from small molecular weight inhibitors, to monoclonal antibodies, to siRNA-based, microRNA-based and vector-based therapies, immunotoxin or nanoparticle-based drug delivery, and to various combinations thereof.
These findings are claimed in a pending patent application. We are seeking an industrial partner to further refine and market this technology. (Ref: J615)
Last Updated: 7/24/12