Thursday, 3 March 2011

How human tumour micro-environment impacts tumour cell biology

Preclinical Oncology Services Limited (PRECOS), a pre-clinical research and development service provider with a specific focus on oncology, will be hosting a new webinar discussing its cutting-edge technology and innovative ideas on in vitro and in vivo modelling of the human tumour micro-environment (TME). The informative web seminar will take place on March 15 2011, 12 - 1pm EDT and will be hosted by Dr Brett Hall, Oncology Biomarker Team Leader, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Professor Sue Watson, Chief Scientific Officer of PRECOS. To register visit:

The educational webinar will provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities in developing novel therapeutics linked to the human TME and illustrate how the human TME impacts tumour cell biology and drug pharmacology. A number of new oncology targets have arisen through investigations into the TME associated with solid tumours and tumour stem cell characteristics. However due to the level of cancer drug attrition in the clinic, drug discovery programmes are looking to the early pre-clinical phase to optimally challenge new targets, in terms of their potential efficacy, prior to initiating a full drug discovery cascade.
Today, almost 80% of cancer treatments entering clinical trials fail before they reach market. The number of new cancer cases globally is predicted to double to 27 million by 2030 with the number of survivors exceeding 75 million. A large number of new oncology targets continue to be identified, many of which have arisen through investigations into TME associated with solid tumours and tumour stem cell characteristics. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that enable tumour cell dissemination is now providing important new therapeutic strategies.

The webinar will highlight how current approaches to lead validation and optimisation rely on standard two-dimensional in vitro assays and simple xenograft and orthotopic models, utilising immortalised cell lines whose characteristics have been selected and optimised for growing on plastic. The molecular profile of these cell lines can be considerably different from primary tumour cells, and standard models will not exhibit optimal paracrine signalling due to the lack of human stroma, potentially misguiding the determination of efficacy of novel therapeutic agents.

PRECOS has established models which more fully recapitulate the TME both in vitro and in vivo by use of either human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) or patient-derived cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). These can be fluorescent/bioluminescent based to allow real-time read-outs of the drug response of individual cell types or xenografts in which a human stromal element is retained.