JHU researchers personalize chemotherapy drug selection

Test uses cells from patients' tumors to help determine best treatment

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a way to make cancer treatment more effective for cancer patients.

Image caption: Cell lines

The technique, tested in lab studies, uses cell lines created from patients' own tumors to determine which chemotherapy drug works best to treat the disease. If successful in further laboratory studies, the method could replace current tests used to optimize drug selection that have proven technically challenging, of limited use, and slow, the researchers say.

Oncologists typically choose anticancer drugs based on the affected organs' location and/or the appearance and activity of cancer cells when viewed under a microscope. Some companies offer commercial tests on surgically removed tumors using a small number of anticancer drugs.

But Anirban Maitra, professor of pathology and oncology at the School of Medicine, says the tissue samples used in such tests may have been injured by anesthetic drugs or shipping to a lab, compromising test results. By contrast, Maitra says "our cell lines better and more accurately represent the tumors, and can be tested against any drug library in the world to see if the cancer is responsive."

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