Research Project

Breast Cancer

Patient-derived breast cancer organoids to transform drug discovery screening assays

This award supports a collaborative project that aims to produce organoids from breast cancer patient biopsies, and grow those organoids at scale to enable the discovery of new breast cancer therapies. This project built on the expertise of the team that has already successfully established lines of colorectal cancer organoids.

One of the major hurdles of discovering new and effective cancer treatments is the availability of good representative “model” systems which can be used to test large numbers of candidate therapeutic compounds, since cells in a petri dish frequently don’t behave as they would in the body. By growing cells in 3D, it is possible to recreate much more of the complexity that is seen in patients’ tumours and therefore, get a better idea of how effective new therapies will be. The team is using donated tumour tissue, taken from patients in hospital, to grow organoids. By growing tumours as organoids from many different patients, we aim to derive organoid models from all the major breast cancer sub-types, covering the whole range of tumour types seen in humans.

This project has allowed us to extend the range of cancer tissues that we can offer at scale, and in turn enable more pharmaceutical companies to embrace organoid technology. We believe this will provide our customers with a more robust, relevant and cost-effective model for screening new drug compounds.

The project has also opened up the opportunity to work with tissues taken from Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of cancer, where the tissue or cells from a patient’s tumour are implanted and propagated in immunodeficient or humanised mice.

The project started in July 2018 and was completed in late 2020. Carried out in collaboration with Cardiff University, it is hoped that this will lead to Cellesce being able to license and make a number of breast cancer organoid lines commercially available under license terms already agreed.

Funded by: Innovate UK