Chinese scientists have claimed a breakthrough in cancer research. They say they have been able to grow cancer tumors outside the body. That could lead to a new generation of cancer treatments, they hope.
Liu Hua, a visiting professor at the Zhongshan Hospital in Shanghai, pointed out scientists had for years been able to grow cancer cells in laboratories, but never reproduced a living cancer tumor.
He said that doctors to whom he showed the tumour he had developed were excited.
"Some have worked 30 or 40 years and have never seen a tumor outside the body. They agree its a milestone in cancer research," he said.
He also noted that drug companies and researchers often found the treatments tested on a simple culture of cancer cells did not work well on the tumor itself.
"Now they will be able to work with a complete, three dimensional tumor and examine how it reacts, metastasize or grows when treated in different ways. Compared with conventional breeding systems we can continuously observe the behavior of a tumor. It is difficult to observe metastasis in a patient," Liu said.
Regimens less toxic than chemotherapy and even cancer vaccines are now a distinct possibility, others seem to feel.