Despite major advances in in the understanding on how cancers form and develop, there are still many cancers that have a poor prognosis. During the last decade, considerable knowledge has been gained related to the genetic composition of different tumor types including their mutations. In patients that have the same diagnosis, targeted drugs towards such mutations have been shown to be effective in some patients while showing limited efficacy in others. This is because cancer is a complex and heterogeneous disease in which each tumor contains cancer cells with different biological characteristics.
These biological characteristics vary from patient to patient, even in patients with the same diagnosis. We also know that the tumor communicates with normal tissue and that the degree of this communication varies between patients. Therefore, it is important to develop therapeutic strategies that are adapted and targeted to each individual patient specific need (personalized treatment).
Personalized Functional Profiling (PFP)
Precision medicine requires the treatment to be adapted to the individual patient. At present, a three-dimensional (3D) culture-based technological platform has been developed that allows the establishment of hundreds of small living micro-tumors in the laboratory prepared from a tumor following surgery. These micro-tumors, also called tumor organoids, mimic the growth pattern and the cellular structures of the patient’s tumor. The organoids are then treated in the laboratory with a wide range of approved drugs. The screening process takes place automatically, where the goal is to find the treatment option that show the best efficacy against the tumor cells.
The results obtained are then assessed by a multidisciplinary panel, consisting of surgeons, pathologists, pharmacologists and cancer biologists. Based on the results obtained following PFP, the panel makes a decision on whether promising drugs have been identified for the patient. In order to be able to use this technology in Norway, we are collaborating with the Luxembourg Institute of Health. The results from the PFP technology will also contribute to promoting further research in cancer biology and also towards potential effective treatments for other tumor types.