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19.07.17 Huch lab wins project grant to develop patient-specific 'liver cancer organoids'

last modified Jul 19, 2017 03:04 PM
The NC3Rs has awarded a project grant to Meri Huch to explore how to grow liver cancer organoids from tumour biopsies, replacing the use of animals for such research
19.07.17 Huch lab wins project grant to develop patient-specific 'liver cancer organoids'

Liver organoids from mice, such as this, could be replaced by those grown from human tissue biopsies

Replacing liver cancer models by modelling human liver cancer in vitro


This is the title of Meri Huch's latest research project, one of nine new project awards by the National Centre for the Replacement Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). 

We currently lack good liver cancer models that faithfully represent the genetic variability of human liver cancer, and indeed the majority of existing animal models (from mice to dog) do not replicate the human disease. This poses a problem for researchers wishing to design therapeutic strategies and test potential drug compounds. What we need is a system of liver cancer cultures that can be obtained in a timely manner from the patient, expanded and maintained long term, and that are easy to manipulate.

The Huch lab have pioneered the liver organoid culture system whereby human cells in vitro can grow into three-dimensional structures mimicking the liver. These organoids have already been shown to model two different liver genetic diseases.  The new funding from the NC3Rs now allows the group to explore how organoids could be grown from patients' tunour biopsies using the same system, to provide a patient-specific model of liver cancer in the culture dish. 

This will allow for personalised anti-cancer therapeutic strategies to be tested, and for the study of human liver cancer biology in general, replacing the use of animals in liver cancer research and drug testing.


See the full news item on the NC3Rs website.

Read more about research in the Huch lab.

Watch Meri describe her work on organoids on our YouTube channel.

Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.

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