Multi-drug analyses in patients distinguish efficacious cancer agents based on both tumor cell killing and immunomodulation.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Cancer research (2017)


The vision of a precision medicine-guided approach to novel cancer drug development is challenged by high intra-tumor heterogeneity and interpatient diversity. This complexity is rarely modeled accurately during preclinical drug development, hampering predictions of clinical drug efficacy. To address this issue, we developed CIVO (Comparative In Vivo Oncology) arrayed microinjection technology to test tumor responsiveness to simultaneous microdoses of multiple drugs directly in a patient's tumor. Here, in a study of 18 canine patients with soft tissue sarcoma (STS), CIVO captured complex, patient-specific tumor responses encompassing both cancer cells and multiple immune infiltrates following localized exposure to different chemotherapy agents. CIVO also classified patient-specific tumor resistance to the most effective agent, doxorubicin, and further enabled assessment of a preclinical autophagy inhibitor, PS-1001, to reverse doxorubicin resistance. In a CIVO-identified subset of doxorubicin-resistant tumors, PS-1001 resulted in enhanced anti-tumor activity, increased infiltration of macrophages, and skewed this infiltrate toward M1 polarization. The ability to evaluate and cross-compare multiple drugs and drug combinations simultaneously in living tumors and across a diverse immune-competent patient population may provide a foundation from which to make informed drug development decisions. This method also represents a viable functional approach to complement current precision oncology strategies.