Tumor grafts derived from women with breast cancer authentically reflect tumor pathology, growth, metastasis and disease outcomes

Yoko S. Derose, Guoying Wang, Yi Chun Lin, Philip S. Bernard, Saundra S. Buys, Mark T.W. Ebbert, Rachel Factor, Cindy Matsen, Brett A. Milash, Edward Nelson, Leigh Neumayer, R. Lor Randall, Inge J. Stijleman, Bryan E. Welm, Alana L. Welm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

753 Scopus citations


Development and preclinical testing of new cancer therapies is limited by the scarcity of in vivo models that authentically reproduce tumor growth and metastatic progression. We report new models for breast tumor growth and metastasis in the form of transplantable tumors derived directly from individuals undergoing treatment for breast cancer. These tumor grafts illustrate the diversity of human breast cancer and maintain essential features of the original tumors, including metastasis to specific sites. Co-engraftment of primary human mesenchymal stem cells maintains phenotypic stability of the grafts and increases tumor growth by promoting angiogenesis. We also report that tumor engraftment is a prognostic indicator of disease outcome for women with newly diagnosed breast cancer; orthotopic breast tumor grafting is a step toward individualized models for tumor growth, metastasis and prognosis. This bank of tumor grafts also serves as a publicly available resource for new models in which to study the biology of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1514-1520
Number of pages7
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the individuals who donated tissue toward this endeavor and the Associated Regional and University Pathologists Research Institute staff for performing the clinical stains. This work was supported by funding from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (to A.L.W.; BC075015), the American Association for Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Research Foundation (to A.L.W.; 07−60−26−WELM) and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. We also used the Huntsman Cancer Institute Tissue Resource and Application Core and Comparative Oncology Core facilities, which is supported in part by P30 CA042014 (to the Huntsman Cancer Institute).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)


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