Milan, December 4th, 2018 - One of the most significant advances in cancer research in the last ten years has been the development of tumor organoids: these are high- tech 3D cell cultures that reproduce mini-organs in vitro through 3D modeling and mimic some of the specific structures and functions of tumors in a particular organ, taking stem cells from patients. Up to now, this technology has enabled the scientific community to explore the understanding of a variety of tissues including the organs most affected by tumors, such as prostate, colon, lung, breast, pancreas, kidney, liver and brain. This is a promising technological frontier, which offers enormous potential for development. It is a preclinical model ideal for applications such as drug testing and the development of personalized and more effective anti-cancer therapies. However, at present the organoid technology represents an expensive and not so efficient system that is not yet ready for standard use, thus limiting its potential and applications. It is precisely with this challenge in mind and with a view to promoting translational acceleration from basic research to clinical research that IFOM, Cogentech and Accurate International (China) are partnering today to launch the "China-Europe Tumor Organoid Research Center": a joint research center based in Milan and Guangzhou aimed at finding innovative solutions to speed and standardize the clinical application of organoids.
IFOM is a natural partner for this field: in its Milan laboratories, the techniques on organoids constitute a solid experimental platform that intertwines with the other approaches in use, from post-genomic technologies to mechanobiology. An IFOM research team with transversal competences around organoids already committed to contribute to the progress of this system: scientists like Stefano Piccolo and Alberto Bardelli, who work between the IFOM and respectively the University of Padua and the Candiolo Institute, both pioneered the introduction of this technology in Italy. Kristina Havas and Giorgio Scita, which uses organoid models to study breast cancer and tumor metastasis, Mario Varasi, director of IFOM’s Experimental Therapeutics programme and Silvia Marsoni, expert in clinical trials – are also members of the team.
Cogentech SRL, Benefit company will bring its experience in the field of molecular diagnostics on hereditary tumors already used by hospitals through its genetic testing service as well as its experience in advanced technological platforms such as sequencing and imaging.
Scientists from IFOM and Cogentech focus on diagnostics and the development of new drugs based on organoids while researchers from Accurate International will bring their expertise on the development of clinical applications. As a matter of fact, the company is recognized by clinical experts of over 80 clinical institutions in China, including Peking Union Medical College Hospital. "When we observed the research conducted by Accurate International and the results achieved - says Marco Foiani, Scientific Director of IFOM and promoter of the establishment of the new research center - we immediately identified a synergy point based on an objective that we both pursue: research on organoids in concrete results and available for clinical research in a short time."
“This initiative – declares Catherin Huang, Founder & CEO of Accurate International - has great significance for promoting the innovation and transformation of organoide-like technology and establishing international standards in this field of studies. The partnership between Accurate International and IFOM in this joint research center will optimize their respective strengths, integrate their expertise, establish alliances for research cooperation and industrial transformation with the benefit of the whole international scientific community."
The "China-Europe Tumor Organoid Research Center" who saw his institution sign this morning in the context of the China-Italy Forum at the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, will be based at the 24,000 square meter campus run by IFOM in Milan and the first experimental challenge he will face will be focused on Colorectal cancer : the main big killer in the world.