Tumor Organoids Preclinical Models Dream Team - Stand Up To Cancer

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SU2C–Dutch Cancer Society
Tumor Organoids Dream Team:
A New Preclinical Model for Drug Sensitivity Analysis

Grant Term: April 2014–April 2019

The SU2C–Dutch Cancer Society (DCS) Tumor Organoids Dream Team has developed a groundbreaking technology that allows oncology samples from patients to be maintained and grown in the laboratory. These growing cancers, called tumor organoids, provide an unprecedented opportunity to combine science’s ability to sequence the DNA of tumors from individual patients with laboratory studies to see if the cancer will respond to or resist specific anticancer treatments. The organoids allow studies of sensitivity and resistance to a large number of anticancer drugs, ultimately helping doctors bring better and more targeted treatments to cancer patients.


The promise of precision medicine lies in the ability of researchers to devise treatments 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 consequences of all the DNA changes that contribute to cancer progression, and how those changes can be targeted by drugs, this SU2C–DCS Tumor Organoids Dream Team has developed a groundbreaking technology that allows tumor samples isolated from patients to be maintained and grown in a laboratory setting as “tumor organoids.”

Importantly, these tumor organoids will allow studies of sensitivity and resistance to a large number of anticancer drugs in the lab. The ultimate goal is to design new and more sophisticated clinical trials that 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, ultimately providing effective new targeted treatment options for cancer patients.


The top scientists and researchers on the SU2C–DCS Tumor Organoids Dream Team come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, which leads them to great insights upon collaboration. Learn more about the SU2C–DCS Tumor Organoids Dream Team.

Dream Team Members

Hans Clevers, MD, PhD
Hubrecht Institute

Johannes Bos, PhD
University Medical Center Utrecht

Michael Stratton, MD
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Principal Investigator

Lodewyk Wessels, PhD
Netherlands Cancer Institute
Principal Investigator

Jeannette Janzen

Margreet Jonker

Patrüschka Wolfsen
Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology
Project Manager

“Our goal [is] to use a recently developed technology that allows tumors to be grown in the laboratory to develop a large ‘living biobank’ for colon, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. We expect to be able to use this biobank to identify new drugs and drug combinations for evaluation in clinical trials.”

Hans Clevers, MD, PhD
Hubrecht Institute


Stand Up To Cancer’s research projects are designed to foster collaborative, swift translational research. The hallmarks of these efforts include rigorous application and selection procedures, sufficient funding to allow scientists to focus on the objectives of the grant, and reviews by senior scientists every six months. These reviews help the investigators capitalize on the latest findings, address potential roadblocks, and collaboratively evolve as the science requires. Please click on the link to see summaries of research results so far for the SU2C–DCS Tumor Organoids Dream Team.



A Living Biobank of Breast Cancer Organoids Captures Disease Heterogeneity
Sachs N, Voest EE, Clevers H, et al. (2018)
Cell 172(1):373-386.e10.
Human Primary Liver Cancer–Derived Organoid Cultures for Disease Modeling and Drug Screening
Broutier L, Garnett MJ, et al. (2017)
Nature Medicine 23:1424–1435.


Cancer clinical trials allow researchers to study innovative and potentially life-saving new treatments. The goal is to find treatments that are better than what’s currently available; in fact, the therapies offered to today’s cancer patients were almost all studied and made possible by people participating in clinical trials. But many cancer clinical trials aren’t completed because not enough people take part.

At StandUpToCancer.org/ClinicalTrials, you’ll find information and answers to common questions about clinical trials. Learn more and talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial may be the best choice for you.

You can also connect with EmergingMed, a free and confidential clinical trial matching service that provides access to a vast database to help you identify the clinical trials that might be right for you or your loved one.



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