Trace PDX platform at KU Leuven looking for Project Manager/Coordinator
May 12, 2017

Trace PDX platform at KU Leuven looking for Project Manager/Coordinator

Trace (, a multidisciplinary project focused on patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models at the KU Leuven, is set up within the department of oncology to narrow the gap between preclinical and clinical research by developing a more reliable and predictive in vivo model for different tumor types. The established PDX models have the potential to be a representative oncology model for testing innovative treatment therapies, investigating new and existing pathways and define biomarkers. Trace is thereby a crucial link between the clinicians of the UZ Leuven and researchers of the KU Leuven, in close collaboration with both key players. This ambitious and innovative project is a multicentric initiative active on a national and international level (including membership to the EurOPDX Consortium).

To support these activities, Trace is currently looking for a dynamic and highly motivated manager/coordinator.

Full description of the position responsibilities and profile needed is available on the KU Leuven website:

For more information, please contact Eleonora Leucci, tel.: + 32 16 37 70 88, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than June 12, 2017 via the online application tool. Please upload your CV (max 4 pages) and motivation letter including the contact details of two European referees.

EC Scientific Conference 'Non-Animal Approaches - The Way Forward': We were there.
December 8, 2016

EC Scientific Conference 'Non-Animal Approaches - The Way Forward': We were there.

We presented a poster at the scientific conference organised by the European Commission in Brussels on December 6-7, 2016 to engage the scientific community and relevant stakeholders in a debate on how to exploit cutting edge advances in biomedical and other research in the development of scientifically valid non-animal approaches (alternatives to animal testing).

The conference brought together people from different countries, scientific disciplines and sectors with expertise in research involving animals and / or non-animal alternative approaches. Through scientific presentations and panel discussions attendees explored the current benefits and limitations of different models, and considered how to improve the quality and predictivity of models used in research, including approaches to accelerate non-animal alternatives.

Very promising alternatives were presented and discussed like organ-on-chip and in silico approaches, but also other ways to comply with the 3Rs (Reduce, Refine, Replace) such as non-invasive imaging. As well as the need for following the ARRIVE guidelines when reporting on in vivo work in order to increase the reproducibility of data, and the need to report on negative results, all to contribute to reducing the number of animals used.

It is crucial to the members of the EurOPDX Consortium to embrasse these issues by designing studies and reporting results in full compliance with the European Directives and the 3Rs. In addition, many of our activities contribute to the 3Rs, such as the development of ex vivo PDX-derived cells for prescreening of models and reduction in the number of animals (if not replacement by avoiding unnecessary in vivo experiments). See previous News on Bruna et al. Cell 2016 article.

Presentations, videos, and the report from the conference are now available at Our poster is included in the conference content.

Poster presented at the 1st EurOPDX Workshop  with an update on our activities
October 4, 2016

Poster presented at the 1st EurOPDX Workshop with an update on our activities

Our first workshop taking place in Weggis, Switzerland on October 3-5 was also an opportunity to present a poster with an update on the current members of the Consortium, our objectives, achievements so far and future directions.

You can upload this poster using the following link:

More updates soon!

Featured Cell article - Breast cancer PDX-derived cells as drug-screening platform
September 15, 2016

Featured Cell article - Breast cancer PDX-derived cells as drug-screening platform

Dr. Alejandra Bruna and colleagues, from Prof. Carlos Caldas laboratory at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CI), recently published in Cell a new experimental platform using patient-derived tumour xenografts (PDTXs) of breast cancer (BC) in high-content preclinical drug screening. This work represents an important advance in the potential of PDTXs for personalised medicine, allowing for a rapid, cost effective testing in BC’s with a wide range of different therapeutic possibilities.

Initially, the authors deeply molecularly characterised most of their PDTX samples, at different passages, and the matched originating cancer, and showed PDTXs resemble at the copy number, mutational, epigenetic and transcriptomic levels the originating tumour sample. Significantly, these molecular and histological features remain stable through serial passaging of the PDTX samples in the mouse. Bruna et al. also showed PDTXs are communities of clones of similar composition and architecture to that that is found in the clinical population and matched originating tumour sample. This unique feature positions BC PDTXs as an improved preclinical model in drug development and for the study of molecular mechanisms of drug response and resistance.

One of the main limitations of PDTXs is that they don’t support the powerful advances of high-throughput drug testing. The authors overcame this limitation by developing the PDTC/PDTX platform, which uses short-term cultured PDTX cells (or PDTCs) for ex vivo high-throughput single and drug-drug combination testing. The reproducibility and specificity of the dataset supports its robustness and biologically relevance. Significantly, ex vivo PDTCs drug responses are highly correlated with in vivo responses, suggesting that PDTCs can be used as a drug-screening platform prior to testing drugs in vivo, thus contributing to reducing the number of mice used in experiments and complying with the 3R rules. In addition, Bruna et al. nicely showed that PDTCs also retain the intra-tumour heterogeneity and clonal architecture of the original patient samples.

The authors used a large biobank of highly annotated BC PDTX samples to conduct the study. This large biobank is being maintained and expanded at the CI and is currently one of the largest BC PDTX biobanks in the world in the academic setting. It is currently composed of n=93 models, from which some were initially established in other EurOPDX centres: Institut Curie (Paris, France, PI: Dr. Elisabetta Marangoni), the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (Barcelona, Spain, PI: Dr. Violeta Serra) and the Netherlands Cancer Institute (Amsterdam, The Netherlands, PI: Dr. Jos Jonkers).

This initiative led by the Caldas laboratory in Cambridge represents the first biobank of EurOPDX models with extensive molecular and drug response annotation that can be easily browsed in a public web portal developed in the CI (

This publication also supports one of the EurOPDX main objectives of biobanking and sharing large numbers of PDTX models for easy access to the scientific community, and generalising the use of state-of-the-art PDX-derived in vitro models.

Link to the article: