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Individualized Treatment for Bladder Cancer Shows Promise

Urothelial carcinoma

A new technique that utilizes liquid biopsies and conditional reprogramming has the potential to offer personalized treatment strategies for patients with bladder cancer.

Accounting for approximately 17,000 deaths in the United States in 2018, bladder cancer is distinctive from many other cancers in that its survival rates have not improved in the past 30 years. Treatment regimens vary due to their dependency on associated risk factors and each patient's personal clinical characteristics.

Investigators from Georgetown University Medical Center and Fudan University in China, however, have developed a promising technique that uses personalized medicine to individualize treatment plans for patients with bladder cancer. Led by Shuai Jiang, MD, of the Department of Urology at Fudan University, the researchers utilized conditional reprogramming to grow cancer cells from urine specimens, the most easily acquired and least invasive type of patient sample.

The investigators successfully produced urine conditional reprogramming cultures (CRCs), a cell culture technique in which patient-derived cells can grow indefinitely without being genetically modified, in 83.3% of the 70 samples that were tested. In each of the viable CRCs, single nucleotide variants and DNA insertions and deletions from the original specimen were retained. In their study published in Protein and Cell, Dr. Jiang and colleagues comment, "We also identified some mutations not identified in the original tumor biopsies, suggesting that the urine cell cultures better reflect overall tumor diversity than a single biopsy."

Additionally, the researchers used the CRCs to determine drug sensitivities, treating each culture with 64 oncology drugs before measuring cell viability. Every CRC exhibited high sensitivity to bortezomib, a drug that is currently in a clinical trial for patients with urothelial cancer.

"The high success rate and rapid proliferation of urine CRCs implied they are suitable for large-scale drug testing," Dr. Jiang and colleagues conclude. "With a short timescale from establishment to drug testing, this novel in vitro bladder cancer system thus opens up new avenues for predicting patient-specific drug responses and [turning] personalized medicine into a reality."

For More Information

Jiang S, Wang J, Yang C, et al (2019). Continuous culture of urine-derived bladder cancer cells for precision medicine. Protein & Cell. [Epub ahead of print] DOI:10.1007/s13238-019-0649-5

Image credit: Nephron. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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