Predicting Clinical Success: Preclinical Modeling in Cancer

May 1, 2022

After over two years of virtual events, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research hosted an in-person workshop on preclinical models in cancer that took place at the Endicott House in Dedham, Massachusetts from May 1-3, 2022.

Preclinical models are critical tools in cancer research and therapeutics development, starting from early discovery stages through to IND-enabling studies, and come in many varieties. Genetically engineered mice are experimentally controllable and genetically accurate models for many human cancers, while patient-derived models provide a direct link to human biology. Tumor organoids are complex, three-dimensional ex vivo platforms which may be based on human cells and are amenable to high throughput perturbations. Clinical trials in large animals can generate critical information on experimental treatments. Computational methodologies integrate data from these disparate models, for increased translation and deeper understanding of the diseases and treatments. Nevertheless, gaps exist before preclinical models can be used to their fullest potential to predict clinical success.

The workshop was organized by Ross Levine, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, University of Utecht, and Irena Ivanovska, PhD. The workshop saw experts in murine models, organoids, large animal models, and beyond come together to brainstorm, challenge current assumptions, identify gaps in our knowledge and resources, and present new ideas that could ultimately lead to novel preclinical models that will accelerate mechanistic studies and therapeutics development.

To empower fresh ideas and collaborations from this workshop, The Mark Foundation invited workshop attendees to submit proposals for projects related to the theme of the workshop as part of a special round of the ASPIRE Awards, and the following three projects were chosen for funding:

Jos Jonkers, PhD, Netherlands Cancer Institute
Somatic modelling of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer in rats

Nikhil Joshi, PhD, Yale University School of Medicine
Developing genetic models for studying cardinal features of human cancer

Tuomas Tammela, MD, PhD and Dana Pe’er, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Parallel molecular and functional dissection of cancer cell states in human solid tumors

We are thrilled to have resumed in-person scientific meetings. The comradery, collaborative spirit, and excitement at the workshop underscored the importance of these events in engendering ground-breaking research. The Mark Foundation looks forward to many more successful workshops and programs in the future.


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