Organoid technology is becoming a more popular choice as a biomedical tool to study human development and disease. As a new way to develop targeted drugs and personalised medicine, it can be used to find the best treatment for a variety of cancer types. This includes rare diseases, where the number of patients on which to conduct research and test treatments is limited. While targeted therapeutic drugs could revolutionise cancer treatment, they must be administered in a personalised way which is where organoid technology can make a real, positive impact.
The future of medical research
Organoids are derived from stem cells and grown in a lab. Ranging in size from less than the width of a hair to five millimetres, these clusters of cells can self-organise and grow into miniature versions of organs. Derived from biopsies and tissues sampled from patients, there are potentially as many types of organoids as there are different tissues and organs in the body. They display the three-dimensional characteristics and physiology of real organs, offering unique possibilities for medical research focused on drug discovery and personalised medicine.
Until recently, growing organoids has been a labour intensive, manual process with considerable variability between batches. Therefore, they have been produced in small numbers at specialist research laboratories. The inability to grow sufficient organoids of uniform size and in the quantities needed to test vast numbers of potential drug candidates has slowed its widespread use.
From lab to industry
Biotech company Cellesce, founded in 2013, has built on the biochemical and bioprocess engineering expertise at Bath, and cell and organoid biology expertise at Cardiff University. It has successfully created and patented organoid technology that can manufacture large numbers of organoids with uniform and reproducible characteristics. It specialises in the scaled production of organoids from tumour and normal tissues; the latter is important to assess the toxic effects of any new drugs on normal patient tissues.
Cellesce’s future pipeline includes growing miniature organs that resemble the lung, breast, abdomen, and liver for pre-clinical testing that reduce or replace animal studies.
'Cellesce is at an exciting phase of its development as we commercialise a technology that promises to revolutionise oncology medical research. We will be working closely with our partners to take our expansion technology to the next stage, which will see Cellesce becoming the world-leading supplier of organoid expansion services.' — Victoria Marsh Durban, Chief Executive, Cellesce Limited