Of mice and men: how animal ‘avatars’ could hold the key to personalized cancer treatment

Mouse injection (NYT)

The New York Times has published an intriguing profile of Champions Oncology, a company using so-called mouse ‘avatars’ to replicate the immune systems of cancer patients. Researchers at the New Jersey-based organization take tumors that have been freshly extracted from patients and slice them up for insertion into specially-bred mice, letting the cells grow inside the animals until they have a sufficient number to conduct a study. They then test various cocktails of drugs on the mice, using the results to determine which could work best on the human patient. The treatment isn’t cheap — a study of four different drugs for a 9-year-old Ewing’s sarcoma sufferer earlier this year cost $ 25,500 — and there is, as yet, no cast-iron…

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