November 9, 2015 – Cancer Avatar


Anchor lead: Can human tumors grown in mice help determine cancer therapy? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Mouse avatars, where a person’s tumor is grown in a mouse for the purpose of evaluating different potential therapies, has shown some promise in a recent Johns Hopkins study.  William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says there’s more here than simply a tool for distinguishing best therapy.

Nelson:  That may be where this is ultimately headed.  I’m more excited about what we may learn along the way.  There have been some of these data I’ve seen where you can sample different parts of the primary cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, and then see how differently they respond to different commonly used drugs, from the same cancers.  Could that be some reason why some people have a response where their cancer shrinks but won’t go completely away with one treatment or another?  I think this may teach us a lot whether or not it ultimately in the end is a useful clinical tool I think we’re going to learn a lot by doing this.  :32

For now, Nelson says, he’s convinced of the research potential for mouse avatars but says commercialization isn’t ready for prime time.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.