Research ArticleBioengineering

A technology platform to assess multiple cancer agents simultaneously within a patient’s tumor

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Science Translational Medicine  22 Apr 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 284, pp. 284ra58
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa7489

There’s no place like the human

Animal models of human tumors and dish cultures of cancer cells are not sufficient to predict an individual patient’s response to therapy. In the emerging era of personalized medicine, why limit ourselves to rodent models and engineered in vitro tumor models when we can study a drug directly in the patient’s tumor? This question was answered by Klinghoffer et al. by creating a microinjection system called CIVO that delivers small doses of up to eight different drugs simultaneously, directly into the tumor. The tumors could then be removed and evaluated for various markers of cancer response; in short, the authors looked for markers of cell death and drug-related mechanisms of action. By using an injection-tracking dye, Klinghoffer and colleagues could see where the drug was deposited and then use an automated analyzer for quantitative image processing along the 6-mm injection tract. In mouse models of human lymphoma, the authors were able to correctly predict systemic responsiveness to doxorubicin or vincristine—or not, in the case of resistant lymphomas. They also uncovered unexpected drug sensitivities, which were not picked up by traditional cell culture, including to novel anticancer agents, and confirmed these in vivo. The authors pilot-tested the device in dog and human patients, demonstrating the ability of CIVO to inject and track local tumor response to chemotherapies. Ultimately, such a personalized approach to drug sensitivity testing will allow for rational selection of therapeutics while sparing patients the pain—and time—associated with ineffective treatments.

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