FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Champions Oncology

The TumorGraft process and drug screening

What is a personalized Champions TumorGraft®?
A personalized Champions TumorGraft® is Champions Oncology’s unique method of implanting and growing a fragment of a patient’s live tumor in mice. This technology is also known as mouse avatar or patient-derived-xenograft model. This innovative solution preserves the distinct characteristics of your unique live tumor, creating a “clone” that is nearly identical to the tumor growing in your body.

Once the Champions TumorGrafts® have developed, Champions will test anticancer drug regimens on the tumor-implanted mouse avatars. The Champions team works in conjunction with your physician in choosing the drugs tested, identifying the cancer treatment regimen most likely to positively impact your tumor.

How can Champions TumorGrafts® help patients and physicians?
Champions TumorGrafts® provide patients and physicians with a predictive model for how the patient’s tumor will react to various anticancer drugs and treatments. Studies have shown that a cancer treatment therapy that shrinks a patient’s Champions TumorGraft® in mice also has a higher likelihood of working against the tumor in your body. Your physician will then be able to make cancer treatment therapy decisions based on real-world observations of how your own tumor responded to various anticancer drugs.

How does Champions get the patient's live tumor for the implantation?
The Champions TumorGraft® journey begins shortly before the patient’s surgery. While the surgeon removes or biopsies the tumor, a Champions cancer specialist will collect a tumor sample from the surgeon and transport it to our facilities. It is therefore essential that patients contact Champions and set up their Champions TumorGraft® prior to surgery.
Do tumors always grow?
While we make every attempt to ensure that your tumor will take and form a TumorGraft, there are many factors that contribute to the process. Unfortunately, there are times when a tumor does not grow.
What factors affect whether a tumor will grow or not?

There are many factors that can affect whether your tumor will grow after being implanted into mice. The biggest factor is tissue quality and viability, but others include:

  • how much tissue we obtain

  • how aggressive the tumor is

  • how long it takes to implant the tumor into the mice (surgery location versus implantation location)

  • strain of mouse used for generating the TumorGraft

We are continually researching ways to ensure as many TumorGrafts are successfully established as possible without changing how they might respond to drugs during testing.

How long does TumorGraft testing take?

The testing process can be divided into two phases:

Phase 1: The first phase of testing covers implantation of your tumor into mice and assessment of its growth. It generally takes 6-8 weeks from the time of your surgery, and at the end of this period, we evaluate whether your tumor grew in the mice. Should your tumor have successfully grown, we move onto Phase 2.

Phase 2: The second phase covers expansion of mouse numbers for drug testing and the drug testing itself. This part takes about 8-10 weeks on average.

Please remember that each tumor is unique and therefore the time taken might be more or less than the averages quoted here.

How accurate is the TumorGraft test in identifying drugs that are likely to work?

Another way of asking this question is:

When a TumorGraft test identifies a drug that reduces growth in the mice, how often is that same drug beneficial to the patient?

We have conducted 108 individual drug tests in our TumorGrafts. Of the 79 tests where a drug was shown to reduce growth in the TumorGraft, 75 of those drugs also worked in reducing the growth of the tumor in the patient. This means that when the TumorGraft test identifies a drug that reduces growth, 95 percent of the time, those same drugs give some benefit to the patient.

 

How do you know which drugs to test?
A number of factors are considered when deciding which drugs to test against your TumorGraft, including your tumor type, how advanced it is, what treatments you have already received, and any specific features your tumor may have. We also consider experimental therapies that may be as yet unapproved, but have either shown some clinical effect in other tumors (either the same type as yours or different) or that target some biological feature of your tumor. The choice of treatments to test against your TumorGraft is made in close consultation with your oncologist.
Can you test off-label drugs or drugs that are not indicated for my tumor type?

Generally speaking, yes, we can test off-label drugs and drugs that are not typically considered for your tumor type, but we prefer to first try drugs that are readily available to patients and that have shown some clinical effect in your tumor type. The decision to test an off-label drug would only be made after discussion with your oncologist.

What is the advantage of the TumorGraft over DNA sequencing?

Because DNA sequencing and Champions TumorGraft® give very different types of information, it is difficult to compare them to each other and say one is better than the other. Instead, we think of them as complementary approaches we use to determine which drugs are most likely to benefit you.

DNA sequencing gives us information on the genetic makeup of a tumor, including which genes are different (mutated) from those found in normal tissue. This can help us decide which drugs we should be testing against your TumorGraft. There are some cancer drugs available that will only work if certain mutations are present in your tumor. The TumorGraft is the technology we use to test those different cancer drugs to determine which ones have the best chance of helping you.

General Patient Questions

Does insurance cover any of the costs?
We understand that TumorGraft testing is expensive, and we are in the process of discussing possible reimbursement with several insurance companies. However, for the time being, the cost of TumorGraft testing is borne by the patient.
How much experience do you have with my type of cancer?

As you can see from the graph below, Champions’ experience with different tumor types varies, but has increased substantially in recent years and continues to grow with each passing year. However, we also recognize that every tumor is unique, and so Champions continues to work hard to ensure that we understand as much as possible about your specific tumor, to better guide your treatment decisions.

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How many TumorGrafts have you done and how many have identified drugs that work in patients?
We have engrafted 437 individual patient tumors over the last three years, and of these, 75 percent grew and established a TumorGraft. A drug that benefited the patient, either through stabilization or regression of disease, was identified from 90 percent of these TumorGrafts.
If I want to do other tests in the future, can you store my tumor?

Yes, we can store your tumor for future tests. Similarly to our live tumor bank, we can keep yours under defined conditions that maintain its biological features. This sample can then be used for future drug testing if needed.

What is a live tumor bank?
A live tumor bank is a way for us to maintain a collection of patient TumorGrafts. A sample of a TumorGraft is placed into a specially designed container and kept under specific conditions that maintain the characteristics of the tumor. This sample can then be used for future drug testing if it becomes necessary. The banked tissue can also be used for additional molecular and biochemical testing that may help us better understand your treatment options.
If my tumor changes during treatment or recurs after treatment, what does this mean for my TumorGraft and any future treatments, should I need them?
It is likely that a heavily treated tumor that continues to grow or a tumor that recurs both have genetic traits that are somewhat different than your original TumorGraft. This occurs primarily because your tumor changes in order to escape the growth-blocking effects of the therapy you have been on. However, this only means that your tumor is unlikely to respond to the drug(s) that you have been on previously. We know from experience that a patient’s original TumorGraft can still identify new drugs that will have some effect on recurrent or treatment-refractory tumors. In addition, there can be multiple drugs that attack the same target in a tumor, just in slightly different ways. This means the recurrent tumor may still be sensitive to that type of drug, just not necessarily the exact one you have already been on. For example, angiogenesis inhibitors restrict the ability of a tumor to form new blood vessels for nutrition and continued growth. There are numerous types of angiogenesis inhibitors that act in different ways to achieve the same end result.

Whom should I contact for more information or if I have more questions?

You can contact a Champions representative for more information about our TumorGraft technology and how it can be used during your treatment. Please call 201-808-8400 (for our head office in Hackensack, New Jersey) or send an email to:

US – Meghan Lunetta [email protected]

UK – Geoff Muckle [email protected]

Israel – Aviram Sorogin [email protected]

Singapore – Jasper Ng [email protected]