Modeling human tumors—an imperfect art

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Science  10 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6364, pp. 759-760
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6364.759-d

Thousands of mice are cured of cancer each year by rationally designed drugs. Only a small percentage of these drugs prove to be effective in cancer patients, largely because mouse tumors do not accurately mimic human tumors. To circumvent this problem, many researchers now use patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models, where human tumor fragments are implanted into mice and propagated by serial transplantation. A genomics study by Ben-David et al. raises concerns about the predictive power of PDX models. They examined copy number alterations in 1110 PDXs from 24 cancer types and found that the PDXs display a different pattern of genomic evolution from that of in-patient tumors. Preliminary analyses revealed that these genomic differences translate into differences in therapeutic response.

Nat. Genet. 10.1038/ng.3967 (2017).

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