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Tumors in a Dish

So-called "tumoroids" might be able to help researchers better understand what goes on inside a tumor and what drugs might be best poised to combat it, the Economist reports.

A University of Cambridge-led team of researchers took the idea of growing organoids in the lab and extended it to tumors. As they report this week in Nature Medicine, Cambridge's Meritxell Huch and colleagues isolated tumor samples from eight patients with three different types of liver cancer and grew them up in the lab in a 3D culture system. The organoids developed from these tumors kept the histological architecture, gene expression, and genomic landscape of the original tumor, the researchers say.

The researchers further found that these "tumoroids" could be used to identify biomarkers. For instance, they linked increased activity of genes like C19ORF48, UBE2S, DTYMK, C1QBP, and STMN1 with poor prognosis. They also put the tumoroids to work to screen for effective drug compounds.

"Because tumoroids faithfully replicate the cancers from which they are derived, a drug that works in the test tube should work in the patient as well," the Economist writes.