Intestinal organoids and personalized medicine in cystic fibrosis: a successful patient-oriented research collaboration

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Purpose of reviewNew therapeutics have been introduced for cystic fibrosis that modulate cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) function in a mutation-specific fashion. Despite CFTR genotype-based stratification of treatments, treatment efficacy is variable between study participants suggesting that individual factors further contribute to drug efficacy. Moreover, these treatments are licensed for a limited amount of CFTR mutations, and study participants with rare mutations that can potentially benefit from available treatments may be missed. New approaches that better support the identification of responders to CFTR modulators are, therefore, needed.Recent findingsWe, here, review how a patient-oriented research collaboration between basic and clinical scientists and a national cystic fibrosis patient organization led to the development of a CFTR-dependent assay using primary stem cell cultures termed intestinal organoids that can measure the individual efficacy of CFTR modulators in a preclinical laboratory setting. Early observations suggest that drug responses in organoids reflect drug responses in vivo.SummaryWe particularly focus on the importance of patient-oriented research collaborations, and how such a collaboration helped to develop a personalized medicine approach for CFTR modulators. Intestinal organoids and biobanks thereof may be used to select optimal, individually tailored treatments for current and future (combinations of) CFTR modulators with only limited patient discomfort.

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