19 April, 2017

How to select the right oncology model

By Travis Rothrock

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Key considerations for selecting the most appropriate oncology model
Today’s breakthrough oncology treatments are the result of years of research and testing. Animal models represent an essential part of this ongoing effort to improve human health and better understand a treatment’s potential in humans. That’s why the specific model selected for testing can mean the difference between success and failure in a study.

Here we discuss the factors to consider when selecting the right animal model for your oncology research

Producing the right tumor in the right amount of time

Models serve as valuable precursors to downstream testing in other models and eventually humans. Ineffective model selection often delays time-sensitive research, resulting in greater expenditure and ultimately delaying time to market.

Researchers must consider several specific factors to produce a tumor of adequate size and composition in a model, starting with the drug type to be tested. For example, a checkpoint inhibitor compound may be appropriate for an immuno-competent model whereas other compounds may require a certain degree of immunodeficiency in the model.

Timing is another important factor to examine. Immune status of a model can change as it ages and its overall lifespan must be considered as tumors can regress due to age-related immune function. Some models may become leady after a period of time while other models may experience irrelevant growth of other types of tumors. Tumor growth rate and the length also should be examined to ensure the model can support the study’s requirements.

Different models, different results

Today’s models can be very sophisticated with specific gene features of mutations that impact immune responses. The presence or absence of a hair coat, degree of heterogeneity, or preconditions are important factors in the decision process.

Consulting previous cell line research on oncology modeling can help determine how to replicate success but an experienced research services company, can provide the most objective, up-to-date advice, taking into account the quantity of available compound to test, determining how to implant the cell line of interest, and estimating the availability of the best source.

Maintaining your model

After selecting the right oncology model and determining that the proper amount to acquire for a study, it’s also essential to consider how the model is maintained. For example, immunodeficient models will need appropriate caging and bedding. Hairless or nude models require softer bedding and a less dusty space. Environmental enrichment is also important as it can factor into a study’s results, as shown in a recent chemotherapy study in an animal model.

Diet choices for the model should be carefully monitored, as certain nutrient and non-nutrient components can impact results. Chlorophyll can interfere with imaging studies, phytoestrogens can cause unpredictable tumors, and by-products can become carcinogenic, stressing the need for a carefully controlled diet.

Many variables can make or break the success of an oncology research study. With the industry’s ongoing need to build more efficiency into drug development, it’s essential to optimize results by selecting the right model at the right time.

Download an insightful educational e-book: How to select the right oncology model

[E-book] How to select the right oncology model

Category // Research models and services, Oncology