Oncologists could soon be developing more effective cancer treatments that are personalised to individual patients’ tumours, thanks to funding for new research at Imperial College London.
A fellowship at the university will study a method to recreate a patient’s tumour and surrounding cells outside the body and determine which drugs are most effective to treat it.
The Ex Vivo Organ Culture (EVOC) method has shown early promise in preliminary studies in Israel.
The programme received £300,000 this month in funding from the Dangoor family, adding to a £5 million grant it awarded to create a cancer research hub.
“What’s quite novel about the EVOC model in particular is that it maintains the microenvironment of the tumour and so more accurately mimics what is happening in the body,” said Dr Jon Krell, senior clinical lecturer at Imperial’s Department of Surgery and Cancer, who will lead the new trial.
Other methods of cancer treatment “extract the cancer cells from the biopsy to test drug response but get rid of surrounding cells that also make up the tumour, including blood vessels, immune cells and stroma,” he said.
“This model keeps all of that.”
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Dr Krell’s trial will comprehensively test the EVOC model on biopsies from cancer patients by comparing its treatment against more mainstream cancer therapies.
The hope is it will produce a method that can predict the best possible treatment for a patient.
EVOC technology was first developed in Israel and the new fellowship will draw on existing links between Imperial, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv, and the Exilarch Foundation led by David Dangoor.
Dangoor said: “It’s vital that we back research into cancer at every stage of investigation – from fundamental molecular studies through to clinical trials in patients, such as the one the Dangoor Fellowship will support.”
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