Avatar mice represent a new hope in the fight against cancer. They are the key element of an experimental method employed to identify the best chemotherapeutic choice for a particular cancer patient. Pilot studies, conducted by Dr. Manuel Hidalgo at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) in Madrid, have shown therapeutic benefits in patients with pancreatic cancer —which was incurable and is now getting closer to become a chronic disease.
The immune-depressed avatar mice bear the replica of a certain patient’s tumor. The tumor grows in very similar conditions to the those in the patient’s body, so the researchers can test different drugs to discover which one would be the best choice for this particular person. The future of this technology is currently bubbling: Is it a real revolution against incurable tumors? Is this going to become an universal practice to treat all cancer patients?