New publications on lab-grown ‘mini-tumours’ in a dish


Kai Kretzschmar, Junior Group Leader at the MSNZ, has published several papers on the use of lab-grown ‘mini-tumours’ for cancer research.

Scientific breakthroughs over the last decade allowed to make ‘mini-organs’ in a dish, so-called organoids, from biopsies obtained from different tissues of healthy donors. This organoid technology was then advanced to grow ‘mini-tumours’ in the laboratory from tumour cells obtained from cancer patients.

(Source: Else Driehuis, Kai Kretzschmar and Hans Clevers)

Together with Prof. Hans Clevers, a pioneer of organoid technology working at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht (The Netherlands), and Dr. Else Driehuis, a postdoc in the Clevers Lab, Dr. Kretzschmar published a standard protocol for the generation of these ‘mini-tumours’ from primary patient material, including head and neck cancer tissue. The authors also describe how the established ‘mini-tumours’ can be used for testing anti-cancer drugs.

A blog post “Behind the paper” can be read here. The full article can be accessed freely here (Nature Protocols, PDF format).


(Source: Kai Kretzschmar/SMART Servier Medical Art)

In a second publication, Dr. Kretzschmar provides an overview of the current and possible future applications of organoid technology in cancer research. For example, ‘mini-organs’ are currently used to study the origins and underlying causes of cancer development, while ‘mini-tumours’ are also already utilised for drug discoveries and screenings as well as for developing and testing cancer immunotherapy.

The review article can be accessed freely here (Journal of Molecular Medicine).

A summary of the review article has been included in a book about organoids published by the Interdisciplinary Research Group Gene Technology Report of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), which is available in German. In addition, a White Paper on ‘Organoids – from stem cells to future technologies’ has been published by the Interdisciplinary Research Group Gene Technology Report of the BBAW and the German Stem Cell Network (GSCN) also discussing the work of Dr. Kretzschmar, which is available in German and English.