More Personalized Cancer Tx? There's a Mouse for That
the MPR take:
In cancer treatment, targeting effective therapies for individual patients can be a bit of trial and error as patients may not respond to certain drugs. Champions Oncology is offering cancer patients a service where mice act as “guinea pigs” to test specific treatments based on the patient’s cancer. A sample of the patient’s tumor is removed and grafted under the skin of an immune-deficient mouse. The mice, referred to as cancer “avatars,” are then treated with different therapies based on tumor reduction. The results detailing the most effective drugs are then submitted to the patient’s oncologist. Over 350 patients have had tumors successfully grown in these mice, but the failure rate for tumor growth is about 30%. In addition, the tumors grow in the mice at the same rate as in humans which could mean waiting four to six months for treatment results. The cost is about $10,000-12,000 and is not covered by health insurance due to the experimental nature of the procedure.
For $12,000, a company grafts a patient's cancer into rodents and tests drugs on them. At a laboratory in Baltimore, hairless mice kept in racks of plastic crates are labelled with yellow cards, each identifying a person fighting cancer. These mice are cancer "avatars"-the lumpy tumors visible under their skin come from actual patients.
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