Scientists have achieved success in creating a human-in-mouse cancer model mimicking human tumor behaviors and response, a finding that would pave way for improved cancer drugs.
Researchers at AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company have engineered normal human breast tissue to express oncogenes, which when introduced in mice, formed human breast tissue in mouse mammary microenvironment.
The tumors, which then develop spontaneously, acquire common and distinct mutations during tumor progression.
This process results in tumors in mice that reflect their human counterparts, exhibiting natural genetic variation akin to that seen in patients.
"Historically, the xenograft models created to analyze how human cancers behave have not been accurate predictors of human responses to various therapeutic agents," said Dr Robert A. Weinberg, member, Whitehead Institute and professor of biology, MIT.
The HIM tumors also displayed characteristic responses to a targeted therapy known to be effective in humans, specifically Herceptin.
"This represents a big step forward in developing xenograft models that will accurately predict patient responses to agents that are in preclinical development," he said.
"The HIM model is an exciting, experimentally tractable human in vivo system that holds great potential for advancing our basic understanding of cancer biology and for the discovery and testing of targeted therapies," he added.
The findings are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.