‘Avatar Mice’ Research Breaks New Ground In Cancer Treatment

On average, more than 550 people nationwide were diagnosed with cancer each day in 2010, according to the most recent report by the Korean health ministry.

However, local medical researchers have been experimenting with innovative cancer treatments to fight the country’s leading cause of death.New research hopes to bridge the gap between animal testing and human clinical trials by using mice as tailored test subjects fora patient’s particular type of disease. It’s a revolutionary step in medicine dubbed the “avatar mouseproject.”
The term “avatar” is used informally by scientists to describe a mouse or other animal that acts as a personalized model of a patient’s type of cancer. In a recent Korean study, tissue from a patient’s brain tumor was removed .

Those cancerous cells were then grafted into a mouse which could mimic the disease within the original human donor.
In as little as two months, researchers were able to see the implanted human cells take hold in their animal hosts. 
{Dr. Yang Hee-kyoung, Incurable Cancer Research Director Samsung Medical Center}
“If the tumor forms in the span of two to six months, then the rat’s body weight gradually decreases and we observe if their condition worsens.

“These mouse “avatars” could in the future allow doctors to find the most effective combination of cancer drugs to combat a particular tumor before giving them to a patient.

For example, physicians using multiple avatars that are tested for a wide range of therapies, including chemo and radiation, could find the safest and most effective treatment without ever harming the patient. 
{Dr. Nam Do-hyun, Incurable Cancer Research Director Samsung Medical Center}
“We’re, of course, trying to find the best treatment. Even after standard treatments, cancer patients can continue to relapse. In these situations, we need to provide the most appropriate treatment method to beat the disease.” The research findings by the Korean team have already been published in the recent scientific journal, “Cell Reports.”
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