Research Project

Colorectal Cancer

Exploring the therapeutic potential of 3D intestinal organoid cell models for adenomatous polyposis syndromes

Cellesce, in partnership with the Inherited Tumour Syndromes Research Group at Cardiff University, has won support for further organoid research from the Accelerate programme through the programme’s Clinical Innovation Accelerator (CIA). Accelerate is a pioneering collaboration between Welsh universities and the Life Sciences Hub Wales. Working with industry, it helps translate innovative ideas into new technology, products, and services for the health and care sector. The Accelerate programme is supported by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund. This research will focus on establishing an organoid based model for the pre-clinical testing of drugs for Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP) patients.

FAP and MAP are genetic syndromes which predispose patients to a near-100% lifetime risk of colorectal cancer. This project aims to establish a pre-clinical organoid model of the syndromes, in vitro, to target the drivers of the disease. Cellesce will be working with Professor Sampson’s team, who are based in the Cardiff University Cancer Genetics building at the University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park and with Laura Thomas (based at Swansea University). The aim is to derive organoids from tissue donated by patients with FAP and MAP and grow them at scale. These intestinal organoids will contain all the different cell types found in the original organ and recreate the spatial organisation of the original tissue. They will be used as pre-clinical models of intestinal tumour initiation in order to identify the genetic mechanisms of the disease, to test potential drugs for the treatment of FAP and MAP and for developing therapeutic strategies for the prevention of inherited and sporadic intestinal cancers. These organoid models will complement Cellesce’s existing range ofcolorectal cancer organoids, providing models at both early and late stages of intestinal cancer development. They will be made commercially available under license terms already agreed.

With support from CIA, the academic team,  will bring in their expertise of biology/medicine, genomics and bioinformatics, and experience in governance and accreditation under the Human Tissue Act (HTA). This will be complemented by Cellesce’s scientific knowledge, experience in organoid culture, bioengineering technology and expertise in the expansion of organoids. The project will also benefit from the project team’s links with the NHS including access to donated patient tissue through the Wales Cancer Bank and support from geneticists, gastroenterologists and surgeons.

“The Accelerate support won with Cellesce enables the Cardiff University Inherited Tumour Syndrome Research Group to build upon its track record of genetic discovery research and translation of its findings to pre-clinical and clinical trials of novel targeted treatment,” said Professor Julian Sampson. “This presents a fantastic opportunity to improve care for patients with inherited tumour syndromes and to further develop innovation in precision medicine in Wales.” The project started in October 2019 and is expected to run until July 2021.

Funded by: Accelerate