Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Mini Models

Lab-grown oesophageal cancer 'organoids' that replicate molecular and genetic environment of the disease

25 February 2019

Mini Models

To study skyscraper design or aeroplane flight dynamics, you might make a small model before tinkering with the real thing. Researchers take a similar approach to studying our organs. Clusters of cells resembling miniature organs are used to mimic conditions like cancer on a safe and manageable scale demonstrating how they take hold in our body. For example, scientists studying oesophageal cancers have been hampered by a lack of experimental options, but have now produced organoids that replicate the molecular, physiological and genetic environment of the disease. These organoids – pictured at 3, 7, 14 and 21 days of development from a tumour-derived starting point – provide a new realistic platform for testing drugs and other treatments, as well as observing disease progression, without endangering human or animal test subjects.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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