November 11, 2014 – Mouse Avatar


Anchor lead:  Does it make sense to create a mouse avatar for a human cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports

If you have cancer, you may have heard of a new commercial enterprise purveying a mouse in which to grow your tumor and then test therapies in this so-called ‘avatar’ to see which of them may help you.  Stephen Desiderio, director of the institute of basic biomedical sciences at Johns Hopkins, says such a strategy leaves out at least one critical element, the host’s own immune response to cancer, which underpins many recent cancer therapy successes.

Desiderio: The success of those agents indicates that the host immune response is a major part of the response to cancer. The cancer cell’s ability to interfere with the host response is a major factor in the tumor’s ability to grow in the host.  So by transplanting human tumor into immune deficient animals you’re effectively removing an extremely important part of the host/tumor interaction from the picture, and one could argue the most important aspect of host cell interactions from the standpoint of getting rid of the tumor.  :33

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.