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Yahoo! News UK: The Future of Cancer Testing

Yahoo! News UK recently spoke with Clive Svendsen, PhD, executive director of the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai, about how scientists are growing replicas of patients’ organs that could someday predict whether patients might develop hereditary forms of cancer.

Researchers could also test new cancer therapies on the simplified replicas, called organoids, without exposing patients to the drugs. Organoids do not look like actual organs. Rather, they are a cluster of cells that fit in a petri dish.

"We can now simulate what would happen in a human in diseases like cancer, and then treat it in a dish before you even have it," Svendsen said in the article, which also was published by The Telegraph.

Svendsen conducted his study in ovarian cancer patients who have a mutation in the BRCA-1 gene. Women with this mutation are at increased risk for ovarian cancer and have a 50% chance of developing breast cancer by age 70. As a result, they must decide whether and when to seek preventive surgery to remove their breasts and ovaries.

Using stem cells from the blood of these patients, and also from healthy women, Svendsen and colleagues grew organoids of the women’s fallopian tube tissue, the site where ovarian cancer generally begins. Within six months, organoids from the patients with the BRCA-1 mutation developed abnormalities that indicated cancer.

More research is needed, but Svendsen said his technique could one day give women with a BRCA-1 mutation personalized information about their cancer risk, allowing some to forgo or delay preventive surgery until after their childbearing years.

"Models using this technology are going to become more and more prevalent," Svendsen said in the article.

Click here to read the complete article from Yahoo! News UK.