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‘Avatar’ Mice Test Drugs For Cancer Patients

A Radical form of drug testing may help cancer patients find a treatment that is specifically designed for them.


A privately owned medical research lab offers cancer patients the ability to transplant samples of their cancer cells into test mice. The goal of the experiment is to determine what cancer drugs will produce the best results on that specific patient.

This program attempts to provide hundreds of patients the opportunity to make difficult decisions easier, by allowing experts to perform a procedure that would transfer the patients own tumor cells into a mouse. The medical experts then observe the test mouse’s reaction to a specific chemo treatment, then determine if that specific drug would be suitable for the patient. One of the drawbacks is the lengthy amount of time this procedure takes, in some instances a method of chemo treatment did not produce results that were considered to be satisfying, by the time the lab produced the negative results the patient was considered to ill to attempt a different therapy.

Currently many labs are breeding the test mice for this type of therapy, but the prominent producer of the personalized test mice is, Champions Oncology. This facility has branch offices in London, Tel Aviv and Singapore, but its main office is located in, Hackensack, New Jersey.

The average cost to for a sample of your cancer tissue to be implanted into a mouse is $1,500 USD. That charge will only cover the cost of the facility banking your sample, then an additional of 2,500 dollars will be applied for each individual set of tests. The normal cancer patient utilizing this form of analysis will test 3 to 5 different types of chemo drugs  and will spend anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 dollars. Due to the highly experimental nature of these tests, no insurance companies will cover the treatment.

No evidence has been produced yet that would imply that this radical form of testing will replace the current methods of finding a cancer treatment that is best suitable for a patients needs. A private clinic, in London, reported that 70 percent of time the tests produced results that were beneficial to the patients and that if a particular test did not work on a mouse it also did not work on the patient.

This form of testing is considered to be extremely time intensive and will often take months to produce results, often conclusive results have only been produced long after the cancer patient had begun the early stages of therapy. Experts project that this new method of testing would be most suitable for patients that are suffering from a form of cancer that has spread widely or a patient that has had their cancer return after it was believed to have gone into remission.


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