Metastatic bladder cancer is a lethal and under-studied disease. Chemotherapy has historically been the most effective treatment for advanced bladder cancer, but long-term survival with this metastatic disease has been a rarity. Recently, new drugs including immunotherapies are showing significant promise, but only a certain portion of patients respond to these treatments. Currently we have no reliable way of predicting who the positive responders will be.
The study aims to determine whether the isolation of tumor DNA from a blood test might be a useful way identify changes in tumor DNA (known as mutations) that correspond to treatment response or resistance. Results from this research could lead to a relatively simple and minimally-invasive test to better predict those patients who may respond to immunotherapy. Dr. Wyatt’s team also expects to reveal the landscape of so-called clinically-actionable mutations that are present in metastatic bladder cancer; a finding that will help accelerate the clinical development of novel “precision medicine” based treatment options for patients with this disease.
The 2016 recipient of the grant was Dr. Alan So, also from the University of British Columbia. Below is a description of his research which concluded in June of 2017.
Optimal therapy for bladder cancer remains challenging due to the difficulty in predicting response to therapies. The research the BCC grant centered on the development a 3-dimensional (3D) bioprinted bladder cancer model as a platform for personalized medicine.
We have successfully developed 3D bladder cancer tissues through two different methods. Firstly, we have established a protocol of 3D bioprinting human bladder tumor structures. We have used different human bladder cancer cell lines as proof-of-principle and we have been able to show that these tumors can be kept alive for several weeks. We have also been able to treat them with various chemotherapies and see a regression in tumor size suggesting usability of our 3D bioprinted bladder cancer model. Currently, we are collecting human tissue samples from bladder cancer patients and starting to grow their tumors using this approach. Secondly, another method we have established uses whole organ decellularization. In this 3D bladder cancer model, we are engineering bladder cancer models in a more complex environment. We have successfully established a protocol for whole bladder decellularizaion and have successfully established re-seeding the same organ (scaffold) with human bladder cancer cell lines. Currently we are treating them with several chemotherapy drugs to validate our 3D model. We foresee that our 3D bladder cancer models will potentially allow us to identify the most effective therapy for each patient, translating in the improvement of patient’s care and quality of life.
Lead Investigator Dr. Alexander Wyatt (left) along with Co-Investigators Dr. Peter Black (middle) and Dr. Bernie Eigl (right) of the University of British Columbia are the recipients of the $50,000 2017 Bladder Cancer Canada Research Grant.
How to Apply
You may fill out the form below to add your email address to the distribution list for the Call for Applications.