The work described as three-dimensional 'organoid' culture system for pancreatic cancer has been developed jointly by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and The Lustgarten Foundation. Using the method, scientists can also interrogate the pathways driving the disease while searching for new drug targets.

"With this development, we are now able to culture both mouse and human organoids, providing a very powerful tool in our fight against pancreatic cancer," said David Tuveson, CSHL professor and director of research for The Lustgarten Foundation Tuveson.

It provides a way for scientists to grow organoids from biopsy material, which is comparatively easy to obtain."Biopsies are the standard for diagnosis. We can now rapidly generate organoids from any patient, which offers us the potential to study the disease in a much wider population," said Dannielle Engle, a lead author.

Until now, scientists could not culture human normal ductal pancreatic cells under standard laboratory conditions. The organoids are entirely made up of ductal cells, eliminating the surrounding cell types that often contaminate samples from the pancreas. They grow as hollow spheres within a complex gel-like substance filled with growth-inducing factors and connecting fibers.

Once they have grown to a sufficient size, the organoids can be transplanted back into mice, where they fully recapitulate pancreatic cancer. The team is now working to create a repository of pancreatic tumor samples."We hope to make this available to the entire pancreatic cancer research community," concluded Tuveson. The study appeared in the journal Cell.


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