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New models of drug-resistant breast cancer hint at better treatments

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Posted September 20, 2013

Breast cancer that spreads to other organs is extremely difficult to treat. Doctors can buy patients time, but a cure remains elusive. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that human breast tumors transplanted into mice are excellent models of metastatic cancer and could be valuable tools in the search for better treatments.

New models of drug-resistant breast cancer hint at better treatments
Breast cancer that spreads to other organs is extremely difficult to treat. Doctors can buy patients time, but a cure remains elusive. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that human breast tumors transplanted into mice are excellent models of metastatic cancer and could be valuable tools in the search for better treatments. According to new research published Sept. 19 in Cell Reports, these transplanted tumors maintain the genetic errors that caused the original cancer, even though they are growing in mice. As such, mice carrying human tumors can help identify drivers of tumor growth and serve as excellent test subjects for investigating new drugs. Shown are human breast cancer cells (red) growing amid mouse cells (green). Credit: Matthew J. Ellis, M.D., Ph.D.

According to new research published Sept. 19 in Cell Reports, these transplanted tumors maintain the genetic errors that caused the original cancer, even though they are growing in mice. As such, mice carrying human tumors can help identify drivers of tumor growth and serve as excellent test subjects for investigating new drugs.

Senior author Matthew J. Ellis, MD, PhD, said the new paper is a step toward precision medicine, allowing researchers to study model tumors matched to a specific patient whose treatment regimens are well-documented.

“It is so powerful to have a model of Mrs. Jones’ cancer or Mrs. Smith’s cancer,” said Ellis, a breast cancer specialist who treats patients at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University. “First, we have carefully documented information about the patient. We know exactly what drugs she responded to and what drugs she didn’t. Second, we have her consent for full genetic analysis. And third, we take the cells from her cancer and grow them in a special strain of mice that has no immune system, so they grow cells from a human without rejection.”

 

Read more at: MedicalXpress.com

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