UQ discovery to aid drug development and design

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The University of Queensland says researchers have developed an innovative technique to improve cancer treatments using tumour biopsies less than 30 minutes after they are taken.

It said the ‘Drug uptake in ex Vivo tumours’ technique was developed after researchers found fresh patient tumour biopsies responded differently to treatments than the traditionally used tissue cultures.

Its inventor, UQ Diamantina Institute’s Dr Fiona Simpson, said it could be used to show how long antibodies stayed active in patients or when antibodies were taken into the tumour where they are destroyed.

“The technique will significantly help pharmaceutical and technology companies design future cancer drugs,” said Dr Simpson.

“Until now, scientists have only looked at how cancer drugs interact with tissue culture, not fresh tumours.

“Applying medications to tissue culture doesn’t always work because the immune system responds differently in a body.

“I thought it was pretty obvious that we should test cancer drugs on actual tumours, but people kept telling my research team that it wouldn’t work!”

Dr Simpson said the technique includes a step-by-step process to help drug companies and researchers better understand how drugs interact with patients and respond to targeted treatments.

“We’ve created a comprehensive process, including detailed videos on tumour extraction and drug-testing processes, for researchers around the world to use,” she said.

“The technique is useful for all types of cancers, and we’re very excited about its possibilities.”