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Alliance to Develop Rare Cancer Preclinical Models

Lab mouse

(Robert Owen-Wahl, Pixabay)

15 August 2017. A coalition of a patient advocacy organization, research institute, and cancer research company are implanting mice with human tumors to help study a rare form of cancer. The initiative brings together the ROS1ders organization, Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute, and Champions Oncology Inc.

The project aims to create models of relatively rare human cancers in lab mice to help speed research on finding effective treatments. The cancers are traced to a gene associated with tumor development known as ROS1, where mutations occurring as relocations in chromosomes or fusion with other genes are found in 1 to 3 percent of several forms of solid tumor cancer cases.

ROS1 fusions are studied most often in non-small cell lung cancer, accounting for about 2 percent of cases. Unlike many other lung cancer cases, however, patients with ROS1 abnormalities can be light or non-smokers, as well as younger individuals. So far, FDA approved one drug, crizotinib in March 2016, to treat ROS1-positive cases of lung cancer.

The new initiative to create models of ROS1-related cancers will ask members of the ROS1ders — pronounced Ross Wonders — organization to donate samples of tumor tissue from biopsies or surgery to a biobank administered by Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute. The institute, in San Carols, California, is a cancer research organization affiliated with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. Researchers on the project will recruit participants online, who would normally be too dispersed geographically to take part in a clinical study.

Champions Oncology is contributing its expertise to develop the lab mouse models of human ROS1 abnormalities, expressed as lung cancer or other forms. The company, in Hackensack, New Jersey, provides lab mice implanted with human forms of cancer for research and testing, which the company says preserves the biological characteristics of the original human tumor. Champions Oncology also offers personalized oncology solutions, where individual tumors from individual patients are grafted in mice to test cancer drugs before being taken by the patients.

In this project, Champions Oncology will prepare patient-derived xenograft mice with ROS1 abnormalities from donated tissue samples, as well as associated tumor cell lines. The patients will also make available genomic sequencing data and medical records to evaluate cancer progression in the mice. The models and associated data will be offered to academic and industry researchers for development of new therapies.

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