Researchers at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey have come up with an innovative take on prostate cancer treatment. Instead of patients undergoing numerous therapeutic options in terms of medication or surgery, the team developed prostate tissue models or prostate ‘organoids’ from stem cells and biopsy tissues obtained from patients diagnosed with early and late stages of the disease.
The results of the study, led by Hatem Sabaawy, MD, PhD, resident member at the Cancer Institute and assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, were presented during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Philadelphia.
The common methods of treating advanced prostate cancer include Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but in all cases, recurrence of the condition is inevitable. Moreover, drug resistance of cancer cells is a serious problem. Each patient’s cells has different properties that need to be examined carefully before initiating any therapy. Keeping all these factors in mind, the researchers used previous patient derived cells with cell signaling systems similar to those of the actual mesenchymal stem cells of the patient, and suitable growth factors, to grow prostate organoids using 3D cultures. Furthermore, the team used prostate tissue elements to maintain the self-renewal properties of the non-cancerous parts of the prostate glands. This technique yielded 17 prostate organoids from 19 primary prostatectomy tissues.
The results showed these organoids successfully resembled their original counterparts in terms of tissue and cell make-up, cell signaling properties, androgen receptor signaling and secretion of PSA (prostate specific antigen). This would be beneficial to test a particular line of treatment and drug resistance levels for each patient individually.
Commenting on their study, lead author, Dr. Sabaawy said, “When it comes to better understanding therapy resistance in prostate cancer, animal models and human prostate cancer cell lines by themselves are limiting. By using the patient’s own tissue in 3D cultures, we are able to develop a new laboratory platform for drug testing that maintains the genetic features of the primary prostate, thus enabling scientists to better identify biomarkers of drug resistance or hormonal resistance. We are encouraged that the prostate organoid model can be used with precision medicine and co-clinical approaches to help guide future clinical trials.”