EIPM’s Collaborative Partnership with EurOPDX

Creating a cutting-edge cancer research program can be a long, challenging and expensive undertaking. But Weill Cornell Medicine’s Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center and the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine (EIPM) are helping to make the process more affordable and efficient by working collaboratively with colleagues in Europe to share data, exchange preclinical models, lend expertise, and avoid unnecessary duplication.

These efforts, coordinated through the EurOPDX Consortium, are creating a multidisciplinary network of academic researchers that include oncologists, pathologists, biostatisticians, bioinformaticians and others around the common goal of ‘harnessing clinically relevant models of cancer, in particular “patient derived tumor xenografts” (PDXs), and avoiding duplication of efforts,’ according to the EurOPDX website.

EIPM Director Olivier Elemento, Ph.D.

PDXs are widely recognized to maintain histopathological features and genetic profiles of the original patient tumors. “These models allow for the reduction in variability in organoid systems, and allows tumors to become more predictable in response to drugs,” said Olivier Elemento, Ph.D., Director of the EIPM and a representative to EurOPDX. “The PDX models have a multitude of uses beyond preclinical studies including biomarker analysis and longitudinal analysis of intra-tumor heterogeneity as well as the development of personalized medicine strategies, which has been a main focus of the Englander Institute.”

Launched in 2013, the objective of the EurOPDX Consortium is to curate and integrate a panel of over 1,500 PDX models for more than 30 cancer types established by the members of the network. Most importantly, EurOPDX is making these models available free of charge to all Consortium members, as well as more recently to the scientific community at large through a competitive grant program.

Emilie Vinolo, Ph.D.

“We were lucky to enrich our Consortium by welcoming EIPM scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine to join as EurOPDX member,” said Emilie Vinolo, PhD, Project Manager for EurOPDX since its inception. “The team at EIPM was bringing an impressive expertise in translational cancer research with an integrated platform including PDX models, and in particular for hematological cancers”.

Indeed, most EurOPDX models allow for the study of rare or especially difficult-to-treat solid cancers, including for instance over 700 models for colorectal cancer (primary tumors and liver metastases), 76 for gastric cancer, and over 100 for breast cancer. This wide collection has made EurOPDX one of the most impressive initiatives leading the structure of PDX research worldwide.

Giorgio Inghirami, M.D.

“EurOPDX represents one very promising part of the global effort to raise standards in preclinical cancer research,” said Giorgio Inghirami, M.D., Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a representative of WCM to the Consortium.“Since WCM joined the EurOPDX network in 2017, a series of exchanges have been executed and our collection on hematological disorders can now be shared among all EurOPDX members. We predict that this will foster new collaborations and cross Atlantic programs, and will sponsor the support of both European agencies and federal agencies and private foundations in the United States,” added Dr. Inghirami, M.D.

In addition to the EIPM, the EurOPDX Consortium involves 17 world-class institutions in Europe.  Partnering with additional academic and industry partners, it has recently obtained a grant from the European Union Horizon 2020 program which will be put towards harmonization of procedures using PDX models and the set-up of a Research Infrastructure for sharing models and expertise with the scientific community and improving the reproducibility and predictability of PDX research.

“With the establishment of the EurOPDX Consortium, we are making important progress in collaboratively advancing cancer research and hopefully bringing new treatments and therapies one step closer to patients,” added Drs. Elemento and Inghirami.

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