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Case Studies

Organoids and tumouroids

Biopsy samples collected in the Biorepository can be grown up into organoids, providing a valuable resource for medical research

Organoids are three-dimensional collections of cells that have self-organised into structures that mimic tissues or organs. They are a valuable tool for researchers studying how tissues develop, become diseased, and interact with drugs.

The Williams Gastrointestinal Research Laboratory at UEA has helped pioneer the development of 3D culture models of the human intestinal epithelium.

The Biorepository has been supporting this. We have supplied the tissue biopsy samples obtained from healthy subjects undergoing endoscopy. These are then grown or cultured into organoids that can act as a living human tissue biobank.

Scientists can use organoids in studies that can’t be carried out safely in humans. They are also reducing the use of animals for medical research. They can be propagated in continuous culture for more than one year and can also be frozen and thawed on demand for experimentation purposes.

The Biorepository has facilitated the collection of samples from consenting patients undergoing surgery to remove colon cancer. As well as removing the cancer, we have requested healthy samples unaffected by the cancer.

The researchers are then able to generate patient-matched organoids and tumouroids, which provide a pertinent model system to help develop improved chemoprevention and chemotherapy strategies.