Although enormous effort is being put into discovering new and better treatment options for children with brain cancer, in the end clinicians need a guide that lets them know in advance how well treatments will work in each child. Testing new drugs directly on patient biopsies would be ideal, but this has not been possible and current model systems are not rapid enough to guide clinical decisions due to slow engraftment and high failure rate. Our team asked: “What if we could test drugs against a patient’s own biopsy fast enough to guide clinical decisions?”
Through a new collaboration between Duke and UNC Chapel Hill, our team is working on a radical new approach that combines living tissue brain slices with patient biopsies to recapitulate the clinical brain cancer phenotype. Our innovative approach builds on 20 years of data in generating live brain slice substrates that allow patient tumor cells to establish within hours, maintains high genetic fidelity, is compatible with screening of multiple therapies, all within several days — fast enough to point clinicians to the drugs that are functionally proven to kill each patient’s tumor most effectively.
Leveraging the resources across UNC and Duke, our team seeks to be the first to profile and perform drugs screens on primary pediatric cancer biopsies using the slice platform. We’ll do this with our new method that allows readouts in just a matter of days, fast enough to eventually guide clinical decisions. Our milestones will demonstrate the safety and tumor-killing potential of different clinically-relevant treatment options against patient-derived cells, as well as the genomic profile of both sensitive and resistant tumor populations. This innovative platform will be the first of its kind, providing a brand new tool to better understand pediatric cancer as well as guide clinical care towards effective treatments. We believe this approach holds potential to disrupt the standard of care by moving therapy away from more general and toxic standard chemotherapy/radiation and towards effective personalized tumor-specific therapies. Most importantly, this platform will empower clinicians with a functional guide to select the most effective therapy capable of treating pediatric brain cancer, and provide patients with hope.
Read more: www.dailytarheel.com/article/2019/10/cancer-technology-1025