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The Mouse Version

Some cancer patients are paying for their own mouse avatars on which to test possible drug therapies, the Associated Press reports.

"What I'm doing is personalized cancer treatment. It's the wave of the future," breast cancer patient Eileen Youtie tells the AP. "Part of this is trying to eliminate chemos that are not going to work on me. I don't want to waste time taking them and poison my body."

By grafting a portion of their tumor into lab mice, patients like Youtie hope to learn what drugs will best target their particular cancer. For some patients, the AP notes that mouse avatar testing can reveal that a tumor appears to be sensitive to a drug that isn't typically used to treat that cancer type.

Still, the AP notes that such testing is experimental and may not provide more information than gene tests or better outcomes than standard therapies. Mouse avatar testing, it adds, can cost upwards of $10,000 and isn't typically covered by insurance.

"I do see promise, but it's very time-consuming, it's very expensive," says Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation's Alana Welm. "For the average patient, standard care is going to be the way to go."