First Successful Use of a Patient-Derived Xenograft (PDX) Model to Guide Cancer Treatment

Mohamed Abazeed, MD, PhD became a CTSC KL2 Scholar in 2015. His research program focuses on identifying the genetic abnormalities that give rise to therapeutic resistance in cancer and using this information to develop personalized therapeutic strategies in a new strategy of biologically-guided treatments. He uses his experiences in patient care to develop a clinically relevant research program to study cancers and to translate laboratory discoveries into potential improvements in clinical care.

Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models (immunodeficient mice engrafted with patients’ cancerous cells or tissues) have significantly enhanced cancer research in recent years. However, using PDX models to meet the urgent need for human cancer models to reliably predict clinical activity has proved challenging. Most cancer patients can’t wait months for the cells to become engrafted and grow and be used to test multiple drugs. "The average cancer grows too slowly to use PDX models to guide clinical decision-making. The patient will have received treatment long before the engraftment is ready for testing. By selecting cancers that grow aggressively, we can potentially develop PDX models in a timeframe that is clinically actionable. Using the PDX model, we were able to prospectively predict the patient’s response to first-line therapy and identify the most optimal second-line therapy,” says Dr. Abazeed.