Bone marrow organoids have been made in laboratory conditions for the first time in a “huge step” for haematology science, British scientists have announced.
Scientists in Oxford and Birmingham said their organoids have many key components of human bone marrow, allowing them to be used extensively for the screening of drugs and personalised patient treatments.
The organoids can also be used to preserve cancer cells from blood cancer patients – enabling sustained testing of personalised treatments, they reported.
The work at the universities of Oxford and Birmingham was published in Cancer Discovery. Scientists said they used a new technique to grow the cells in a specially designed scaffold.
Dr Abdullah Khan, a Sir Henry Wellcome Fellow in Birmingham, said: “This is a huge step forward, enabling insights into the growth patterns of cancer cells and potentially a more personalised approach to treatment.
“Remarkably, we found that the cells in their bone marrow organoids resemble real bone marrow cells not just in terms of their activity and function, but also in their architectural relationships – the cell types self-organise and arrange themselves within the organoids just like they do in human bone marrow in the body.”
Professor Bethan Psaila, a haematologist in Oxford, said: “To properly understand how and why blood cancers develop, we need to use experimental systems that closely resemble how real human bone marrow works, which we haven’t really had before.
“It’s really exciting to now have this terrific system, as finally, we are able to study cancer directly using cells from our patients, rather than relying on animal models or other simpler systems that do not properly show us how the cancer is developing in the bone marrow in actual patients.
“We hope that this new technique will help accelerate the discovery and testing of new blood cancer treatments, getting improved drugs for our patients to clinical trials faster.”
Khan AO, Rodriguez-Romera A, Reyat JS, Olijnik AA, Colombo M, Wang G, Wen WX, Sousos N, Murphy LC, Grygielska B, Perrella G, Mahony CB, Ling RE, Elliott NE, Simoglou Karali C, Stone AP, Kemble S, Cutler EA, Fielding AK, Croft AP, Bassett D, Poologasundarampillai G, Roy A, Gooding S, Rayes J, Machlus KR, Psaila B. (2022) “Human bone marrow organoids for disease modelling, discovery and validation of therapeutic targets in hematological malignancies.” Cancer Discovery, doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-22-0199
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