Research ArticleCystic Fibrosis

Characterizing responses to CFTR-modulating drugs using rectal organoids derived from subjects with cystic fibrosis

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Translational Medicine  22 Jun 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 344, pp. 344ra84
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad8278

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Mini-guts for personalized cystic fibrosis therapy

Cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the CFTR gene that severely reduce the function of the CFTR protein. New drugs for treating cystic fibrosis modulate CFTR protein function, but drug efficacy is dependent on which CFTR mutation a patient carries. Dekkers et al. now show that the efficacy of these drugs can be individually assessed in a laboratory test using epithelial cells cultured as mini-guts from rectal biopsies from subjects with cystic fibrosis. The authors show that the drug responses observed in mini-guts or rectal organoids can be used to predict which patients may be potential responders to the drug. This preclinical test may help to quickly identify responders to CFTR-modulating drug therapy even when patients carry very rare CFTR mutations.


Identifying subjects with cystic fibrosis (CF) who may benefit from cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR)–modulating drugs is time-consuming, costly, and especially challenging for individuals with rare uncharacterized CFTR mutations. We studied CFTR function and responses to two drugs—the prototypical CFTR potentiator VX-770 (ivacaftor/KALYDECO) and the CFTR corrector VX-809 (lumacaftor)—in organoid cultures derived from the rectal epithelia of subjects with CF, who expressed a broad range of CFTR mutations. We observed that CFTR residual function and responses to drug therapy depended on both the CFTR mutation and the genetic background of the subjects. In vitro drug responses in rectal organoids positively correlated with published outcome data from clinical trials with VX-809 and VX-770, allowing us to predict from preclinical data the potential for CF patients carrying rare CFTR mutations to respond to drug therapy. We demonstrated proof of principle by selecting two subjects expressing an uncharacterized rare CFTR genotype (G1249R/F508del) who showed clinical responses to treatment with ivacaftor and one subject (F508del/R347P) who showed a limited response to drug therapy both in vitro and in vivo. These data suggest that in vitro measurements of CFTR function in patient-derived rectal organoids may be useful for identifying subjects who would benefit from CFTR-correcting treatment, independent of their CFTR mutation.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Translational Medicine