Scientists from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have made a breakthrough in the treatment of a deadly form of endometrial cancer. This particular type of cancer has a poor prognosis if it spreads or returns after initial treatment, affecting around 15% to 20% of endometrial cancer patients.
Dr. Asmerom Sengal and Associate Professor Pamela Pollock, researchers from QUT’s School of Biomedical Sciences, have published their findings in the journal npj Precision Oncology. The study, entitled “Endometrial cancer PDX-derived organoids (PDXOs) and PDXs with FGFR2c isoform expression are sensitive to FGFR inhibition,” highlights a potential new therapy for the disease and recommends moving forward to patient trials.
Dr. Asmerom explained that while endometrial cancer confined to the uterus can often be cured through surgery, patients with the disease that has spread to the abdomen and other organs have limited treatment options. Previous research has shown that women with endometrial cancer who have a specific growth factor receptor called fibroblast growth factor receptor 2c (FGFR2c) on the surface of tumor cells tend to have a poorer survival rate.
To further investigate this, the researchers developed organoids, which are three-dimensional miniature tumors grown from the endometrial cancer cells of patients. These organoids, grown in a hydrogel, allowed the scientists to study the structure and genetics of the tumors in greater detail. They found that endometrial cancer organoids with activated FGFR2c could be effectively blocked using an FGFR inhibitor drug, resulting in the destruction of the organoids.
The team also confirmed these findings by using patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), which are endometrial cancers implanted in mice. By treating the xenografts with the same FGFR2c inhibitor, they observed significant inhibition of tumor growth, leading to a remarkable increase in the survival rate of the treated mice.
Additionally, the researchers discovered that the xenografts treated with the FGFR inhibitor showed a reduction in tumor blood vessel formation and immune cells known as M2-macrophages, which prevent the immune system from effectively targeting and killing cancer cells.
Based on these findings, Dr. Asmerom believes that a clinical trial combining an FGFR inhibitor with immunotherapy could be a promising approach for the personalized treatment of women with deadly endometrial cancer. This research opens up new opportunities for improving patient care and outcomes in the future.
The next step for the researchers is to proceed with patient trials to further validate the effectiveness of the FGFR inhibitor in treating endometrial cancer. If successful, this could provide a much-needed treatment option for patients with the disease that has spread or recurred, offering new hope and potentially improving survival rates.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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