Personalizing pancreatic cancer treatment by growing, treating tumors in a dish

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Image: Healthline

Only about 15% of advanced pancreatic patients are alive two years after their diagnosis. Margaret Schwarzhans has now made it 2 1/2 years – and not just survived, but thrived.

Using experimental protocols, some of Schwarzhans’ tumor cells are growing in lab dishes at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Those avatars of her own tumor, tiny balls of cells called organoids, can be distributed among lab dishes and each dosed with a different drug. If the 3D mini-tumors in one treated dish die off, researchers have good reason to suspect that the drug added to that dish will kill off her cancer cells, too.

Related article:  Right to try? Drug companies can't be forced to let terminal patients try experimental treatments

[Schwarzhans] is part of a clinical trial in which a patient’s own tumor cells are grown and tested this way in a first step toward personalized cancer treatment. This early-stage trial, the first where a report on the organoid drug response is generated and given to a doctor, isn’t yet aimed at guiding therapy.

But the lead researcher is already using the results in treating patients including Schwarzhans, taking them into account when deciding which drug she should try after the most common therapy began failing her.

Read full, original post: Growing tumors in a dish, scientists try to personalize pancreatic cancer treatment

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