An organotypic microcosm for the pancreatic tumor microenvironment

Miranda Lin, Mei Gao, Prakash K. Pandalai, Michael J. Cavnar, Joseph Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Pancreatic duct adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the next few years. Unfortunately, the development of novel therapies for PDAC has been challenged by a uniquely complex tumor microenvironment. The development of in vitro cancer organoids in recent years has demonstrated potential to increase therapies for patients with PDAC. Organoids have been established from PDAC murine and human tissues and they are representative of the primary tumor. Further, organoids have been shown beneficial in studies of molecular mechanisms and drug sensitivity testing. This review will cover the use of organoids to study PDAC development, invasiveness, and therapeutic resistance in the context of the tumor microenvironment, which is characterized by a dense desmoplastic reaction, hindered immune activity, and pro-tumor metabolic signaling. We describe investigations utilizing organoids to characterize the tumor microenvironment and also describe their limitations. Overall, organoids have great potential to serve as a versatile model of drug response and may be used to increase available therapies and improve survival for patients with PDAC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number811
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Organoids
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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