Cancer Tissue Repository Launched

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Jef Aks


The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will store tissue samples from patients with leukemia and lymphoma from which scientists can make patient-derived mouse models.

One method that is growing in popularity for testing drugs on specific cancer types is the creation of patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), in which researchers implant bits of cancerous tissue extracted from patients into mice for study. Today (April 11), the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute announced the launch of an open-source public repository of biopsy tissue collected from patients with leukemia and lymphoma. Researchers can register for the database, called the Public Repository of Xenografts (PRoXe), use its Web portal to search for PDX models of specific subtypes of blood cancers, and order frozen cells from which they can create xenograft mouse models.

“About 90 percent of compounds that show anti-cancer activity in pre-clinical tests don’t work when given to patients,” said Dana-Farber’s David Weinstock said in a press release. “By trying drugs in PDX models, we can ‘mimic’ large and expensive human clinical trials and get answers about efficacy more quickly, less expensively and without the need for patients to get investigational drugs that won’t work.” Weinstock and his colleagues published details of the new repository today (April 11) in Cancer Cell; a total of 95 different researchers from 14 institutions are listed as coauthors.

For now, PRoXe includes only blood cancers, which are easier to biopsy and successfully transplant than solid tumors. But Weinstock noted in the press release that he and his colleagues are now in talks with several universities to expand the repository to include other biopsy tissues.