SU2C-Dutch Cancer Society Tumor Organoids Dream Team: Tumor Organoids: A New Pre-Clinical Model for Drug Sensitivity Analysis


Hans Clevers, MD, PhD

Hans Clevers, MD, PhD
Professor of Molecular Genetics, Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, Netherlands


Johannes L. Bos, PhD

Johannes L. Bos, PhD
Professor, University Medical Center, Utrecht, Netherlands


The promise of precision medicine lies in the ability of researchers to devise treatment approaches that are specific to the genetic profile of individual patients and their tumors. However, predicting which drug, or drug combination, will be the most effective based on the genetic makeup of a tumor remains a challenge. In order to investigate the consequence of all the DNA changes that contribute to cancer progression, and how they can be targeted by drugs, this Dream Team has developed a groundbreaking technology, called "tumor organoids" that allows tumor samples isolated from patients to be maintained and grown, in the laboratory setting. Importantly, these tumor organoids will allow studies of sensitivity and resistance to a large number of anticancer drugs in the lab. The ultimate goal of this Team is to be able to design novel, more sophisticated clinical trials that will test treatment regimens tailored to a patient's tumor. If successful, this Dream Team project has the potential to provide a true paradigm shift in our current approach to drug development, clinical trial design, and therapy.

Progress to Date:

The team has established a 'living biobank' consisting of over 80 colon cancer organoids, over 80 breast cancer organoids, over 40 pancreatic cancer organoids and over 30 esophageal adenocarcinoma organoids; performed DNA sequencing and drug profiling of colon cancer organoids, with further characterization planned; and tested 300 drugs that are either approved or in clinical trial to identify drugs that can be combined with EGFR-MEK inhibitors, against tumors with mutant K-Ras.

Amount Of Funding:

€6 million (~$8 million)


​Lodewyk F. Wessels, PhD, professor, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sir Michael R. Stratton, FRS, FMedSci, FRCPatH, director, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxston, United Kingdom