The current research models for majority of solid tumors are largely relied on either 2-dimensional (2D) cell cultures, which provide great insight into the tumor growth mechanisms but could not represent the complex interactions between the cancer cells and their environment, or animal models that fulfill the physiological study conditions but sporadically fail to recapitulate the same drug responses from human beings. Moreover, it takes up to several weeks or month before animal models could provide biological data, even not to mention the insufficient correlation between expected and observed results. Thus, artificial matrix scaffold based ex vivo 3D cell culture models have been developed over recent years as an attempt to fill the gap in between.
Our research group has successfully established our unselected ex vivo 3D cell culture (WTC) model from clinical breast and colon cancer materials, which could act as a good and efficient platform for cancer drug screening and validation. During the last 6 years, our research team has been actively worked together with the Stockholm Medical Biobank, as well as the pathology department of Karolinska University Hospital Solna (KS) and Stockholm South General Hospital (SÖS) to establish patient derived tumor cultures. Currently, we receive more than 500 breast tumors and around 50 colon tumors for research purpose annually. Breast and colorectal cancer patients in Stockholm are routinely asked for inclusion in the Stockholm Medical biobank. From patients who sign the informed consent, fresh-frozen tumor tissues and blood samples are stored, and primary tumor cells are isolated.
There is an urgent demand for discovery of more accurate and predictive biomarkers to facilitate personalized oncology. This covers considerations from both health economical and patient outcome aspects. Our ex vivo model systems in combination with next generation sequencing (NGS) analyses, protein based analyses and functional analyses could provide us a platform to identify drug sensitivity and resistance. With the close interactions and collaborations with clinical pathology laboratories in Stockholm, we hope to implement our research outcomes in the routine diagnostic setting in the near future.