Modeling human tumors in mice can be problematic—here’s why

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[A] new study [read full study] suggests that an unfortunate side effect of … evolutionary changes is that human tumors are really difficult to study. Whether the tumor cells are put in a culture dish or grown in mice, they evolve changes that help them grow in this new environment. And some of these changes influence how the tumor cells respond to drugs.

[H]umans and mice caused selection of very different changes. For some tumors, growth and metastasis in humans favored the loss of specific genes, with their deletion present in the majority of tumor cells.

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The big problem, however, is that some of these changes alter how the tumor cells respond to drugs. In other words, a drug that seems ineffective when tested in mice might actually work in the human patient in which the cells originated. Or a drug that works in mice might prove to be useless in the patient.

This doesn’t mean that mice studies are useless; it just indicates they have to be treated with appropriate caution. And, since many researchers will continue to use this approach, it will provide us an opportunity to better understand the consequences of the genetic changes that occur when human cells are grown in mice.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Studying human tumors in mice may end up being misleading

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