Cancers arise from cells that have learned certain tricks to enhance their survival so they can outlive their normal counterparts.
These transformed (cancerous) cells interact directly with their micro-environment.
Cancer cells "talk" to each other and to all the surrounding cells using chemical signals like growth factors and byproducts of metabolism. Blood vessels, immune cells and connective tissues (stroma) all participate and contribute to the cancer process.
This is why it is absolutely essential to test cancers in their own natural clusters known as "microspheroids". We isolate these three-dimensional structures directly from each patient's cancer specimen to test drugs and combinations.
These microspheroids represent cohesive populations that interact directly with stroma, vasculature, inflammatory cells, and other tumor cells. Thus, the microspheroid recapitulates the human tumor environment.
By applying cell death endpoints (the most rigorous of predictive measures) to these microspheroids, we have overcome pitfalls encountered by earlier technologies. Put simply, it is a real-time measure of which drugs cause your cancer cells to die, through a process called programmed cell death. By using this approach, we try to determine in the laboratory the best drugs for each patient before they receive them.
And, for the first time, a truly predictive human tumor model that we call the Ex Vivo Analysis of Programmed Cell Death (EVA-PCD) assay has been developed.