Tail-ored to patients: Horizon latest CRO to offer PDX mouse models

By Fiona Barry

- Last updated on GMT

Patient-derived xenografts are transplanted in immunodeficient mice
Patient-derived xenografts are transplanted in immunodeficient mice

Related tags Cancer

Horizon is already making plans for the research model company it acquired last month, announcing today it will offer patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models for breast cancer under the Sage Labs name.

PDX models insert patient tumour cells in immune-deficient mice for early translational study. They make better predictions for human treatment responses than tumours grown directly in mice and can help discover genetic differences, biomarkers, and patient-specific therapies.

Horizon says its panel of breast cancer models, licensed from Washington University, is the largest available collection of highly characterized PDXs.

Mouse library

Horizon’s Chief Business Officer David Smoller said “Patient-derived xenografts are highly translational and relevant models of human cancers, and have been invaluable tools for oncology research.

However, their utility has previously been somewhat limited by incomplete characterization. Sage Labs’ new collection of PDX breast cancer models, sourced from the labs of Matt Ellis and Shunqiang Li at Washington University, is highly characterized, unlocking their full potential.​”

The collection includes ten triple negative lines, as well as several ER+ (estrogen receptor positive) ones.

The genomes of the original tumours and mestastes were sequenced and compared to early and late versions of the PDXs to show faithful modelling and prove contaminating mouse signals were removed.

Horizon clients can use Sage’s PDXplorer platform to access data on the PDX models, including comprehensive patient histories, estradiol responsiveness, RNA sequencing profiles, DNA microarrays, and phosphoprotein profiles. They can then pick the best models for their research.


PDX models are a growing area, with Crown Bioscience recently increasing its offerings with an oncology centre in North Carolina​ and a partnership with China’s biggest mutant mouse provider​ this year.

Alternatives to PDX models are cancer cell lines (originally derived from patient tumours) which can be grown in vitro ​and later implanted in mice. These are harder to develop and more likely to differ from the original cancer.

However PDX models also come with obstacles: because they are implanted in immunodeficient mice (to prevent rejection of the transplant), they are not useful for studying oncology treatments that target the immune system.

Related topics Preclinical Research Preclinical

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