HUB Living Biobank of Breast Cancer Organoids Captures Disease Heterogeneity

January 26, 2018

Tiny Klunder

Utrecht, 8 January 2018 – In a study published in Cell, Dr. Hans Clevers, CSO of HUB, has demonstrated that the heterogeneity of breast cancer subtypes can be captured using patient derived Organoid cultures. This new Organoid cancer model system can strongly support effective drug development and facilitates the link between clinical and laboratory data.

Dr. Hans Clevers, a pioneer in the field of adult stem cell research and Organoid cultures, has recently published in Cell a novel model for breast cancer (BC). The same as the previously described Organoid models, the BC Organoid model preserves in vivo genetic and phenotypic characteristics of the cancer cells in an expanding in vitro culture system.

In the publication, a robust protocol for long-term culturing of human mammary epithelial Organoids describes >100 primary and metastatic BC Organoid lines, broadly recapitulating the diversity of the disease. BC Organoid morphologies typically matched the histopathology, hormone receptor status, and HER2 status of the original tumor. DNA copy number variations as well as sequence changes were consistent within tumor-organoid pairs and largely retained even after extended passaging. BC Organoids furthermore populated all major gene-expression- based classification groups and allowed in vitro drug screens that were consistent with in vivo xenotransplantation and patient response.

The study describes a representative collection of well-characterized BC Organoids available for cancer research and drug development, as well as a strategy to predict the clinical response of patient tumor cells in an in vitro model system.


About HUB

Hubrecht Organoid Technology (HUB) exploits the pioneering work of Prof. Hans Clevers, who discovered methods to grow stem cell-derived human ‘mini-organs’ (HUB Organoids). The Organoids, that are part of the HUB biobanks, are characterized by genome sequencing, expression profiling and sensitivity to known and experimental drugs to establish a database linking genetic and transcriptional information to drug responsiveness. HUB offers licenses to its patented HUB Organoid technology for drug-screening and access to Organoids in the HUB biobanks for pre-clinical drug discovery and validation. In addition, HUB is performing clinical studies to validate the technologies used as a companion diagnostic.

For further inquiry into this topic, please contact HUB’s Managing Director, Dr. Rob Vries ( or HUB’s Head Business Development, Dr. Bahar Ramezanpour (


Scientific Publication

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