Development and Applications of a Human Tumor Colony Assay for Chemosensitivity Testing

  • S. E. Salmon
Part of the Recent Results in Cancer Research book series (RECENTCANCER, volume 94)


A major objective in cancer research has been to develop simple techniques to predict drug sensitivity of human cancers. Studies carried out with murine tumor models had suggested that in vitro tissue culture assays performed in semisolid media such as agar could be used to assess growth and chemosensitivity of clonogenic tumor cells (which are considered to be closely related to tumor stem cells in vivo) (Park et al. 1971). Tumor stem cells are a key subpopulation of cells within a tumor, which are responsible for self-renewal of the tumor cell population, as well as recurrence and metastasis after subcurative local or systemic treatment (Bruce et al. 1966; Steele 1977; Ogawa et al. 1973). In the mid-1970s, Hamburger and I developed an assay system which proved capable of supporting tumor colony formation from fresh biopsies of human cancers (Hamburger and Salmon 1977a). Our initial emphasis was on multiple myeloma and ovarian cancer (Hamburger and Salmon 1977b; Hamburger et al. 1978). An analogous assay procedure was developed independently by Courtenay and Mills (1978) and applied preclinically to human tumor xenografts. Our intent has been to develop a reproducible, pharmacologically based colony assay system which would prove useful for studies of cancer biology and prediction of response and survival in cancer patients, and to aid in screening and assessment of new anticancer drugs We described the assay as a “tumor stem cell assay” with the anticipation that clonogenic tumor cells as measured in vitro would have some correspondence to tumor stem cells in vivo. This paper briefly reviews progress in these areas.


Ovarian Cancer Multiple Myeloma Chemosensitivity Testing Human Tumor Clonogenic Assay Clonogenic Tumor Cell 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. E. Salmon
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Sciences Center, Section of Hematology and OncologyThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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