Methods for the rapid expansion of patient-derived cancer cells, including cancer stem cell (CSC) population

Categories: “Diagnostics” “Research Tools

Reference #: 2016-028

OTC Contact: Ruchika Nijhara Ph.D., MBA, Director (Directory Information | Send a Message)


The present invention is directed towards compositions and methods for culturing cancer while preserving the functional and genetic heterogeneity of the tumors, enabling its use to stratify patient population for treatment.

Projects such as the Cancer Genome Atlas have highlighted the heterogeneity of human tumors and it has been claimed that many therapies fail because of insufficient tools and inadequate model systems to stratify patient populations for treatment, based on their molecular profile. Patient-derived tumor cells are notoriously difficult to grow efficiently in the laboratory, as most of them do not survive outside of their physiological site of origin, such that their expansion, even if successful, requires a significant length of time and thus, it may lead to the selection of a population of cancer cells that is not fully representative of the original tumor. CSCs are difficult to isolate from biological specimens, in part due to the fact that CSCs undergo rapid differentiation in the growth conditions commonly employed, which most commonly include animal-derived serum. The current invention presents an opportunity to preserve these cells specifically as well as the overall histologic characteristics of the original tumor.


  • Rapidly expand patient-derived tumor samples.
  • Generation of tumor-biobanks for molecular,genetic, epigenetic and biochemical studies.
  • Real-time drug screening and study different cancer cells populations, including, but not limited to cancer stem cells (CSCs).


  • A 3-dimensional culturing system, which more faithfully recapitulates the growth of tumors in their environment, for the virtually indefinite propagation of cancer cells
  • Real-time drug screening and molecular characterization
  • Preserve cancer stem cell sub-populations, which could be then studied independently of other tumor cells for example in drug sensitivity assays
  • Obtain robust cultures in a reasonable time frame in vitro

Stage of Development

Researchers have successfully expanded non small cell lung cancer (NSCLCs) using this invention and demonstrated that these expanded cells maintain a 3D architecture, growing as spheroids, recapitulating the growth of tumors in tissues and retain the histologic and functional characteristics of the tumor of origin. Further, this methodology was successfully used for drug screening.

Optimizing protocol for broader selection of tumor types for further characterization. Further validation on whether the mutational/genetic profile of the patient derived tumor cells processed through the protocol accurately reflect the genetic profile of the original tumor.

Patent Status

IP protected