Invitrocue is a Singapore based technological company that has developed a way for scientists to remove a sample of a patients tumor and grow the cancerous cells in three dimensions instead of the traditional two. It does this by using innovative technology that the company are calling Onco-PDO.
This produces what has been termed ‘Patient Derived Organoids’ (PDOs) that are a very good facsimile for the real thing.
But what does this have to do with predicting how a cancer treatment is likely to behave?
Oncologists now have the means to test a cocktail of drug combinations and high level screening to see how that particular tumor responds.
Real life testing
This level of treatment prediction was tested on a cancer taken from a patient’s neck, with Onco-PDO correctly prescribing a drug that sent the tumor into a strong regression.
How is growing a cancerous lump in a lab going to help cure someone of the disease?
Cancer is a mutation of cells that over produce for reasons still not fully understood. This means that the gene mutates differently each time thus producing an individual tumor in each patient. This means then that different drug combinations and treatments will work differently on different tumors and up until now, it has been a trial and error process, with the patient playing a sort of malignant Russian Roulette. But being able to produce a three dimensional model of the very same gene mutation sequence means that oncologists can test a variety of drugs and drug combinations on a living persons tissue, without causing any damage to the patient while the correct drug combination is found.
2D cell structures vs 3D cell structures
Up until this point, oncologists have been taking tissue cell samples and growing them in a dish, which is still useful to see how cells behave when they are exposed to the cancer fighting drugs, but the cells are spread out in a 2 dimensional formation and do not interact with each other in the same way as a solid 3 dimensional formation does. This means that scientists can get a much clearer picture of how a tumor will respond to treatments within the body, as opposed to spread out evenly in a petrie dish.
This new technology means that each patient can be treated with the correct drugs for their cancer at a relatively low cost, and as no two tumors are the same, it stand to reason that a ‘one size fits all’ strategy with cancer drugs isn’t going to work as well as a treatment that has been developed specifically for the cancer that it is to treat.
Not only is this screening much less costly than previous screening techniques, it is also safer for the patient and much quicker and has a much higher success rate. At this rate, Invitrocue’s Onco-PDO cancer platform will be available to every patient and in every hospital in the world in a relatively short space of time.
The more patients screened this way, the more money saved and, far more importantly, the more lives extended.
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