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Test the Tissue, Treat the Patient

In the years since the first organoid was grown in a lab, Dutch researchers say they've used them to personalize treatments for 1,500 cystic fibrosis patients as well as dozens of cancer patients, Al Jazeera reports.

The researchers have been growing these mini-organs from samples taken from patients and testing them to determine what drugs or combination of drugs may best help that patient. "If we have a drug or a combination of drugs that show responsiveness in the organoid model, we are going to treat the patient with that drug or that combination of drugs," Kors van der En from the University Medical Center, Utrecht, tells Al Jazeera. "We use the organoid's responses as a sort of predictor for drug therapy in the patient."

This approach has helped Madelief Meijering, who has cystic fibrosis, to find a drug regimen that greatly increased her lung capacity. And now, the researchers are also using organoids to direct the treatment of cancer patients. They've also begun to build a biobank of organoids for additional testing.

"If an academic or an industry [researcher] wants to solve a particular issue, they can come to us, look in the catalogue and find cystic fibrosis, colon cancer, a specific genetic background," Rob Vries, the managing director of Hubrecht Organoid Technology adds. "They can then take that organoid out and start developing drugs or start answering questions."