According to The Asahi Shimbun, cells taken from cancer patients will be stored at a medical institute in Japan for use in developing more effective anti-cancer agents and to help individually tailor treatment for victims.
The tentatively named Gan Bank (cancer bank) will be introduced in April next year by the Osaka Medical Centre in Japan for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases in Higashinari Ward, sources said Nov. 4.
Cancer cells spread differently in different patients, and the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs also varies from individual to individual. The centre plans to adopt new technology to collect and cultivate these cells.
Sampling many cells and examining their slight differences could lead to a new type of treatment in which specific patients’ cancer cells can be checked in advance and more effective drugs selected.
However, most cancer tissue removed during surgery soon dies, making it difficult to check the effectiveness of drugs in vitro and to replicate tumours in laboratory animals with collected cancer cells while maintaining the unique characteristics of the carcinoma of each patient.
Masahiro Inoue, head of the biochemistry department of the centre’s research institute, and his colleagues developed a technology in 2011 to culture cancer cells without killing them.
Cancer cells from patients are filtered with a fine mesh, and remaining cell masses are transplanted into mice so that they can proliferate. These cells are then frozen and stored.
The technology allows physicians to unfreeze tumour cells as necessary so that they can be used to test new drugs under development and new combinations of existing anti-cancer agents.
To date, cells from 50 types of colorectal cancer and 30 kinds of lung cancer have been stored using the newly developed technique.
The stored cells will be made available for pharmaceutical companies and other research institutes next spring to coincide with the centre’s relocation to Osaka’s Chuo Ward.
If it becomes possible to identify more effective drugs for certain patients, that could help realize personalized medicine.
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