The Lab and the Clinic – Working Together Towards Personalized Medicine

By Dr. Kristiina Aasa

Personalized medicine is beginning to appear more and more in discussions on the future of health care. This evolving and growing field uses laboratory tests to tailor a patient’s treatment strategy based on their individual genome, medical history or specific characteristics and responsiveness of their condition. Afterall, since each person is so different and their body’s response to the same disease or the same drug can vary so greatly, who wouldn’t want their treatment strategy to be designed specifically for them? I think this is an extremely innovative and exciting field which is why I was thrilled to see our Vevo ultrasound technology incorporated in the development of strategies for personalized medicine! This was exactly the over-arching topic of a recent live webinar we hosted.

Matthew Lowerison presented some of the work he and his collaborators have been conducting at Western University in London, Canada on the evaluation and drug responsiveness of patient-derived renal cell carcinoma (RCC) xenografts in a chick embryo model. His thought-provoking webinar walked us through the development of this model and how they subsequently proved feasibility of testing individual tumor responsiveness to antiangiogenic drugs and drug efficacy. Their goal is to develop a rapid, reliable method of screening RCC patient tumors and predicting drug-resistance in order to personalize treatment regiments, and circumvent the frequent incidences of non-responsiveness.

How did they perform their evaluations on engrafted tumors? With Vevo ultra high frequency ultrasound! They used our imaging platform to visualize and monitor tumor growth, and assess vascularity and perfusion/ blood flow. After further assessment with histology and immunohistochemistry they were able to categorize tumors, and even sub-sections of tumors as being sensitive (reactive) or resistant to the specific drug being tested. Their results were then compared to clinical outcome whenever possible.

The implications of this model, especially using current, clinically relevant drug therapies, is quite exceptional! Imagine a day when drug resistance in cancer therapies could be avoided (at least for the most part) by performing a quick assay in the lab. I certainly think that this work represents a valuable step in that direction.