'Mini-tumours' offer cancer breakthrough
Scientists have discovered a way to develop "tailor-made" cancer treatments - by testing drugs on "mini-tumours" grown in the lab.
The study by the Royal Marsden and Institute of Cancer Research in Britain found that cells taken from cancer patients could be used grow replica tumours, allowing them to keep testing drugs until they found the most likely cure.
Research on 71 patients found that testing drugs on mini tumours picked out drugs which shrank the tumours in almost nine out of 10 cases.
Scientists said the breakthrough was "extremely promising" because major advances in cancer treatment depend on personalising medicine, and targeting specific drugs to the right patients.
They said the change could bring an end to reliance on "trial and error" techniques selecting cancer treatment, ensuring rapid access to drugs for patients facing a "race against time".
Every patient could have mini tumours grown up and tested for drug sensitivity before starting treatment - allowing doctors to design them a personalised treatment regimen.