Establishment of patient-derived cancer organoids for drug-screening applications

Else Driehuis, Kai Kretzschmar, Hans Clevers

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

241 Citations (Scopus)


Adult stem cell-based organoid technology is a versatile tool for the generation and long-term maintenance of near-native 3D epithelial tissues in vitro. The generation of cancer organoids from primary patient material enables a range of therapeutic agents to be tested in the resulting organoid cultures. Patient-derived cancer organoids therefore hold great promise for personalized medicine. Here, we provide an overview of the protocols used by different groups to establish organoids from various epithelial tissues and cancers, plus the different protocols subsequently used to test the in vitro therapy sensitivity of these patient-derived organoids. We also provide an in-depth protocol for the generation of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma organoids and their subsequent use in semi-automated therapy screens. Establishment of organoids and subsequent screening can be performed within 3 months, although this timeline is highly dependent on a.o. starting material and the number of therapies tested. The protocol provided may serve as a reference to successfully establish organoids from other cancer types and perform drug screenings thereof.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3380-3409
Number of pages30
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Adult
  • Biopsy/methods
  • Cell Culture Techniques/methods
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical/methods
  • Early Detection of Cancer/methods
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/pathology
  • Organoids/metabolism
  • Precision Medicine/methods


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