Better, Faster, Cheaper: Study Details Precision Oncology Advance

A recent study published in Cell Reports from a group led by UIC College of Medicine faculty member Ameen Salahudeen, MD, outlines a new cancer screening platform capable of supercharging precision oncology.

Dr. Salahudeen and colleagues at Chicago-based Tempus Labs detailed a scalable platform designed to allow oncologists to move rapidly from biopsy to targeted treatment.

A pan-cancer tumor organoid (TO) system was used, collecting TOs from patient biopsies from the most common cancer types found in North America. They reported that the platform had a higher than 70% success rate for creating organoids from tumor cells. This system effectively and quickly generated enough of the patient’s malignant cells to permit genetic profiling and bio-banking.

A key feature of the platform evolved from a neural network-based AI capability used to determine cell viability. The AI model was trained to differentiate between viable and non-viable cells, at necessary efficiency to scale the approach. 

Finally, the two processes were combined to create a high-throughput oncologic analysis ready for use in diagnosis. Scalable and reproducible platforms like the one described herald the next era of cancer care, said Jan Kitajewski, PhD, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center.

“To put this advancement in context, a clinician could use this platform to diagnose early cancer with a punch biopsy, identify oncogenic mutations and propose a drug cocktail targeted in accordance with actionable gene mutations, all before the patient’s follow-up visit,” Kitajewski explained. “This kind of infrastructure moves us closer to that ideal for precision treatment.”

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