Cancer Models Forum

Posted by Justyna, June 2020

Key takeaways from the AACR Annual Meeting 2020

As always, we were excited to join the American Association of Cancer Research’s (AACR) annual conference to learn about the latest advances in the preclinical oncology field and connect with researchers, CROs and partners within the industry. Due to the current global pandemic, we sadly weren’t able to fly out to San Diego, California as planned but the conference still went ahead online thanks to the hard work of the organising committee.

One of my main highlights from AACR 2020 was the session on: “Patient-Derived Models for Discovery Research and Personalisation of Treatment" featuring talks from Dr. Morgan Black, Dr. Ludovic Bigot (Institute Gustave Roussy) and Dr. Jeroen Pouwels (Helsinki University Central Hospital). Here’s a summary of my key takeaways from these inspiring discussions.

PDX models for personalised real-time drug screening

It was great to hear the talk on: “Feasibility of real-time personalised patient-derived Tumorgraft® models for guiding systemic treatment in recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck cancer patients” presented by Dr. Morgan Black at AACR 2020. The research presented showed the benefit of using real-time PDX modelling – where established PDX models replicate tumour diversity, growth and progression and are correlated with responses in patients, enabling them to be used to evaluate drug responses. Both single agents and a combination of cetuximab/paclitaxel for the treatment of head and neck cancer were investigated in real-time PDX models, with the single agents tested demonstrating 4 to 17 months of effective clinical response.

Feasibility of patient-derived organoids for precision medicine

Next followed an interesting presentation by Dr. Ludovic Bigot titled: “Novel preclinical models of aggressive variants of castration-resistant prostate cancer, which also touched on how the castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) genetic landscape is evolving. Dr. Bigot shared the results of a comparison analysis between PDX and patient-derived organoids (PDOs) for drug screening in precision medicine, including similarities in their mutational profiles and treatment responses. The study found that PDOs were able to successfully identify a suitable drug for 5 out of 9 patients tested, demonstrating the feasibility of PDOs to advance precision medicine.

Potential of patient-derived explant cultures (PDECs) for immuno-oncology studies

The final talk of the session titled: “Patient-derived explant cultures (PDECs) as a model system for immuno-oncology studies” was by Dr. Jeroen Pouwels from Helsinki University Central Hospital. Pouwels started by giving an overview of how PDECs are established and the type of research they can benefit before explaining how they have been used to investigate T cell activity in breast cancer. The data presented highlighted how PDECS are a promising model for immuno-oncology studies - learn more in this paper.

We would like to thank the organisers and participants of AACR 2020 for their great contribution to the preclinical oncology field. We’re looking forward to seeing what further developments and new technologies this year will bring and are looking forward to meeting you all again at AACR 2021.

Interested to learn more about our preclinical cancer models? Have a look at this month’s model spotlight.

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Image credit: Matthias Wagner on Unsplash