Technical development and advances in clinical understanding in many disciplines have led to new opportunities in personalized medicine. The time sensitive identification of individual tumor profiles enables stratification of patients for optimal oncological, surgical and radiotherapeutic therapy approaches including novel immunotherapeutic or targeted treatment. To further improve patient stratification in precision oncology, an additional functional layer of information on top of molecular data is needed: the response of preclinical tumor models to treatments. These models faithfully recapitulate the phenotypical and molecular characteristics of their tissue of origin. This allows ranking of potentially effective drugs/treatment regimens according to their efficacy and gain novel insights into the functional relevance of novel alterations. It also allows the study of pathway specific alterations and their effects inside signaling or resistance networks, among the same or across different tissue entities.
To systematically establish patient derived pre-clinical models for functional testing, the Patient-derived Tumor Model Unit (PMU) was established as a central platform to expand and focus these efforts within a dedicated Unit at NCT/UCC Dresden. The main aim of the PMU is to generate well characterized personalized tumor models, conduct a dedicated drug library screen and provide them to researchers from the NCT as a basis for functional analysis and stratification of patients in precision oncology and preclinical research. The PMU bundles model generation expertise within a dedicated and partially automatized lab which perfectly synergizes with the existing platforms at the NCT/UCC Dresden.