Organoids created from patients’ bladder cancers could guide treatment

Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and NewYork-Presbyterian researchers have created patient-specific bladder cancer organoids that mimic many of the characteristics of actual tumors. The use of organoids, tiny 3-D spheres derived from a patient’s own tumor, may be useful in the future to guide treatment of patients.

The study was published today in the online edition of Cell.

In precision medicine, molecular profiling of an individual patient’s tumor is used to identify genetic mutations that drive that individual’s cancer. That knowledge may help physicians select the best drug to fight the cancer, but the analysis does not always predict how a patient will respond to specific therapies.

Full story at Science Daily

Scientists grow ‘mini-lungs’ to aid study of cystic fibrosis

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have successfully created ‘mini-lungs’ using stem cells derived from skin cells of patients with cystic fibrosis, and have shown that these can be used to test potential new drugs for this debilitating lung disease.

The research is one of a number of studies that have used stem cells — the body’s master cells — to grow ‘organoids’, 3D clusters of cells that mimic the behaviour and function of specific organs within the body. Other recent examples have been ‘mini-brains’ to study Alzheimer’s disease and ‘mini-livers’ to model liver disease. Scientists use the technique to model how diseases occur and to screen for potential drugs; they are an alternative to the use of animals in research.

Cystic fibrosis is a monogenic condition — in other words, it is caused by a single genetic mutation in patients, though in some cases the mutation responsible may differ between patients. One of the main features of cystic fibrosis is the lungs become overwhelmed with thickened mucus causing difficulty breathing and increasing the incidence of respiratory infection. Although patients have a shorter than average lifespan, advances in treatment mean the outlook has improved significantly in recent years.

Full story of mini-lungs aiding cystic fibrosis at Science Daily