According to new review published in the journal of British Journal of Surgery (BJS), the potential of 3D organoid models derived from patient cells help personalize therapy for individuals with gastrointestinal cancers.

To improve cancer care, profiling of patient tumour specimens should go beyond classical histopathology and use next-generation sequencing, RNA analysis and other advanced molecular diagnostic approaches such as proteomics to help unravel the molecular pathways that drive a patient's specific cancer. For this purpose, new models are needed that help predict treatment response accurately. 3D tumour organoids can be generated with high efficiency from fine-needle aspirations, biopsies or resection specimens, and have the potential to serve as a personal cancer model.

Organoids — artificially grown masses of cells or tissues that resemble organs — are being used by researchers in a range of biomedical fields as they study various disease states and work to develop potential treatments. Organoid culture methods have been established for healthy and diseased tissues from esophagus, stomach, intestine, pancreas, bile duct, and liver. Because organoids can be generated with high efficiency and speed from patient samples, they can serve as a personal cancer model that can guide clinical decision-making.

Personalized treatment could become a more standard practice by using these cell cultures for extensive molecular diagnosis and drug screening. Drug sensitivity assays can give a clinically actionable sensitivity profile of a patient's tumour. However, the predictive capability of organoid drug screening has not been evaluated in prospective clinical trials. The study lead author Merel Aberle, MD, of Maastricht University, in The Netherlands said research using organoids has already unraveled so many of the underlying causes of cancer. But, for me, their real promise lies in their capacity to predict treatment response.

In future, organoids could be used to find the best treatment combination for every patient, thereby increasing response rates, but also reducing the side-effects unnecessary treatment may cause. I hope that this review inspires more surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, and other healthcare professionals to use this model and set up collaborative clinical trials, he added.

In conclusion, high-throughput drug screening on organoids, combined with next-generation sequencing, proteomic analysis and other state-of-the-art molecular diagnostic methods, can shape cancer treatment to become more effective with fewer side-effects.