Groundbreaking ‘mini tumours’ grown for cancer treatment

Scientists can now grow ‘mini-tumours’ to predict how cancer patients will respond to various treatments.

The personalised replicas, which are grown in a laboratory, can then be tested against various therapies.

It means cancer patients could be spared the brutal side-effects of a treatment that may not work for them.

The new development will also benefit patients with advanced cancer who do not have time to trial a variety of treatments.

The latest breakthrough is 100 per cent effective, according to a research in the journal Science.

Scientists can now grow ‘mini-tumours’ to predict how cancer patients will respond to various treatments (file image)

Researchers claim it will lead to ‘smarter, kinder and more effective treatments’.

They carried out biopsies on 71 patients with advanced colorectal cancer and allowed smaller versions to grow in test tubes.

The team at the Institute of Cancer Research in London then tested the model tumours with 55 types of drugs.

Given the replicas are based on a patient’s DNA the consequent treatment will be completely personalised.

The tests showed the technique was 100 per cent accurate at determining which drugs would not work.

And they were 8 per cent accurate at predicting drugs that would successfully shrink the tumours.

In addition to tumour cells the research team intends to recreate inflammatory cells to further improve a patient’s treatment.

Dr Nicola Valeri, who led the research carried out by, told the Telegraph: ‘Once a cancer has spread round the body and stopped responding to standard treatments, we face a race against time to find patients a drug that might slow the cancer’s progression and extend their lives.

‘We found that recreating patients’ tumours in the laboratory using this new technique gave us an extremely promising way to predict whether a drug would work for a patient.

She added: ‘We were able to look in incredible detail at how tumours responded to drugs – including patterns of gene activity and mutation, and even how the cancer would evolve in response to treatment.’ ‘We looked at tumours from patients with cancers of the digestive system, but the technique could be applied to a wide variety of cancer types.

‘We need to further evaluate its potential in larger clinical studies, but it has the potential to help deliver truly personalised treatment – and avoid the reliance on trial and error for many patients when clinicians give them a new cancer drug.’