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In the end, the mice couldn’t save Rob Ford, the controversial former mayor of Toronto, who recently died of cancer at age 46.
Late in 2015, bits of Ford’s liposarcoma, a rare cancer of connective tissue he’d been battling since 2014, were transplanted into specially bred mice as part of a clinical trial at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. The idea was that tumors would grow in the bewhiskered “avatars,” and then the mice would receive different chemotherapies individually and in combinations. Seeing which treatments shrunk the tumors would help Ford’s physicians determine what drug to give him.
And all of this would happen while sparing the former mayor from having to endure chemotherapy after toxic chemotherapy until one worked.
Cancer has become the chief proving ground for precision medicine. That generally means determining the genetic profile of a tumor, identifying mutations that might be driving it, and trying to disable those drivers with targeted therapies so as to slam the brakes on malignant cells’ uncontrolled proliferation.
Now “precision chemotherapy” aims to do that for old-line drugs.
By early March, according to local news reports, Ford’s tumors had been growing in mice for about three months. His family said scientists would start testing chemotherapies on the avatars no later than mid-March. Ford did not survive long enough for that.
But hopes for cancer avatars — formally called patient-derived xenografts, or PDXs — are very much alive.
Read full, original post: Lab mice were implanted with Rob Ford’s tumor in last-ditch effort to save him