The potential and challenges of patient-derived organoids in guiding the multimodality treatment of upper gastrointestinal malignancies

Georg A. Busslinger, Fianne Lissendorp, Ingrid A. Franken, Richard van Hillegersberg, Jelle P. Ruurda, Hans Clevers and Michiel F. G. de Maat

Published: 01/04/2020


The incidence of adenocarcinoma at the gastrooesophageal junction increased over the last years. Curative treatment for patients with upper gastrointestinal (UGI) malignancies, such as oesophageal and gastric tumours, is challenging and requires a multidisciplinary approach. Radical surgical resection with complete lymphadenectomy is the cornerstone of UGI cancer treatment. Combined with peri-operative treatment (i.e. by applying CROSS, EOX or FLOT regimen), the survival is even better than with surgery alone. However, peri-operative treatment is not effective in all patients, and the most effective strategy is a topic of active debate, as is reflected by varying treatment guidelines between countries. UGI cancers are (epi)genetically highly heterogeneous. It is thus not likely that a uniform treatment will benefit all patients equally well. Over recent years, patient-derived organoids (PDOs) gained more and more interest as an in vitro prediction model that may assist as a diagnostic tool in the future to select and eventually optimize the best peri-operative treatments for each patient. PDOs can be derived from endoscopic tumour biopsies, which maintain heterogeneity in culture. They can be rapidly established and expanded in a relatively short time for in vitro drug screening experiments. This review summarizes the clinical and molecular aspects of oesophageal and gastric tumours, as well as the current progress and remaining challenges in the use of PDOs for drug and radiation screens.

Full Access Link: Open Biology