Emerging organoid-immune co-culture models for cancer research: from oncoimmunology to personalized immunotherapies

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In the past decade, treatments targeting the immune system have revolutionized the cancer treatment field. Therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors have been approved as first-line treatment in a variety of solid tumors such as melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer while other therapies, for instance, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) lymphocyte transfer therapies, are still in development. Although promising results are obtained in a small subset of patients, overall clinical efficacy of most immunotherapeutics is limited due to intertumoral heterogeneity and therapy resistance. Therefore, prediction of patient-specific responses would be of great value for efficient use of costly immunotherapeutic drugs as well as better outcomes. Because many immunotherapeutics operate by enhancing the interaction and/or recognition of malignant target cells by T cells, in vitro cultures using the combination of these cells derived from the same patient hold great promise to predict drug efficacy in a personalized fashion. The use of two-dimensional cancer cell lines for such cultures is unreliable due to altered phenotypical behavior of cells when compared with the in vivo situation. Three-dimensional tumor-derived organoids, better mimic in vivo tissue and are deemed a more realistic approach to study the complex tumor-immune interactions. In this review, we present an overview of the development of patient-specific tumor organoid-immune co-culture models to study the tumor-specific immune interactions and their possible therapeutic infringement. We also discuss applications of these models which advance personalized therapy efficacy and understanding the tumor microenvironment such as: (1) Screening for efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibition and CAR therapy screening in a personalized manner. (2) Generation of tumor reactive lymphocytes for adoptive cell transfer therapies. (3) Studying tumor-immune interactions to detect cell-specific roles in tumor progression and remission. Overall, these onco-immune co-cultures might hold a promising future toward developing patient-specific therapeutic approaches as well as increase our understanding of tumor-immune interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere006290
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2023

Bibliographical note

JD, MMAV, LJWvdL and SB received the TKI-LSH (Topconsortium Kennis
en Innovatie-Life Sciences & Health) grant (TIL, EMC-LSHM17064).

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


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