Personalizing Cancer Treatments Empirically in the Laboratory: Patient-Specific Tumor Organoids for Optimizing Precision Medicine

  • Andrea Mazzocchi
  • Konstantinos Votanopoulos
  • Aleksander Skardal
Artificial Tissues (A Atala and JG Hunsberger, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Artificial Tissues


Purpose of Review

Cancer is often a complicated and dynamic disease, which makes determining the optimal treatment for a given patient a difficult endeavor. Moreover, even within a particular cancer type, different patients often have varying responses to the same therapies. Bioengineered tumor model systems specific to patients would allow preemptive screening of personalized therapies, facilitating identification of the most effective treatments prior to administration in the patients. Here, we provide an overview of organoid technology, and how these bioengineered tumor models can be harnessed for patient-centric personalized oncology.

Recent Findings

Organoid models have ranged from simple cell spheroids to more complex tumor-on-a-chip systems. The earliest of these models were comprised of easy to culture cell lines, but recent advances in 3D cell culture approaches have facilitated generation of human primary cell-based organoids. Importantly, recent efforts have been made to employ tumor biospecimens from human patients to create personalized tumor models for patient-specific predictive drug screening.


Bioengineering and tissue engineering technologies have advanced significantly in recent years, culminating in the capability to biofabricate tissue and tumor organoids derived from individual human patients. In the near future, we anticipate such models being implemented in parallel with clinical practice as patient-oriented screening tools, thereby improving the success rates of oncology.


Precision medicine Personalized medicine Tumor organoids Biofabrication Tissue engineering 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Andrea Mazzocchi and Konstantinos Votanopoulos declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Aleksander Skardal reports a pending patent on cancer modeling platforms and methods of using the same.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Mazzocchi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Konstantinos Votanopoulos
    • 3
    • 4
  • Aleksander Skardal
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical CenterWake Forest Institute for Regenerative MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Wake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryWake Forest Baptist HealthWinston-SalemUSA
  4. 4.Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist MedicalWinston-SalemUSA
  5. 5.Department of Cancer BiologyWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

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