Organoids are stem cell-derived human epithelial ‘mini-organs’ from tissues of patients with various diseases including cancer and cystic fibrosis. In cell culture, organoids can stably maintain the genotype/phenotype of the patient’s diseased tissue, thereby representing an in vitro platform for preclinical drug discovery and validation and a tool for precision medicine.
Key to the development of the Organoid Technology was the discovery of LGR5+ intestinal stem cells by the Clevers lab.
When provided with the appropriate growth factors, LGR5+ cells were found to form a polarized epithelium in which stem cells, dividing daughter cells and differentiated cells maintain their natural hierarchical and functional role. Importantly, organoids proved to be both genetically and phenotypically stable during prolonged periods of cell culture and are amenable to all standard experimental manipulations.
Proprietary protocols for in vitro expansion of stem cells from patient biopsies from various tissues were developed and constituted the basis for the construction of a ‘Living Biobank’. Stem cell-derived organoids models have the potential to improve preclinical testing and pharmacological compound validation while additionally addressing inter-individual human population variability.