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Ultra-Fast Patient-Derived Xenografts Identify Functional and Spatial Tumour Heterogeneities that Drive Therapeutic Resistance

Treatment of patients with advanced cancers increasingly relies on agents targeting specific molecular or cellular aberrations. These expensive therapies often fail because of pre-existing drug resistance. Intra-tumoural molecular and micro-environmental heterogeneity resistance can create resistance in one or more subclones of a tumour, leading to spatio-functional heterogeneity. We created a rapid approach for quantifying tumour functional phenotypes based on tumour-implantation into the chorioallantoic membrane of chick embryos. We apply this technique to 43 separate biopsies from 6 patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) with 36 replicates per biopsy, achieving a 93.6% engraftment rate (1449/1548). Challenging these models with sunitinib, an anti-angiogenic therapy frequently used in RCC allowed us to quantify spatio-functional heterogeneity in individual patients. Prediction of de novo drug resistance in advanced cancer patients would facilitate precision medicine by tailoring systemic therapies and improve clinical trial design outcome measures. We describe a patient-derived xenograft platform where fresh patient tumour samples are implanted into the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of chick embryos at high engraftment efficiencies, permitting large scale “tumour avatar” studies to guide the selection of drugs and to predict clinical drug resistance outcomes in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patients. Applying this “tumour avatar” model in a co-clinical trial on RCC patients, we observe intra-tumoural functional heterogeneity with sunitinib treatment, revealing the presence of drug-resistant clones prior to the initiation of therapy. Multi-regional exome Matched DNA sequencing of the primary tumour and metastases revealed DNA mutational signatures associated with sunitinib resistance at baseline and after treatment. These These studies demonstrate a rapid and affordable method of findings confirm the existence of genetic and surveying functional tumour heterogeneities heterogeneity.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001003589 27
EGAD00001003590 Illumina HiSeq 2500 27