Exploiting a living biobank to delineate mechanisms underlying disease-specific chromosome instability

Louisa Nelson, Bethany M. Barnes, Anthony Tighe, Samantha Littler, Camilla Coulson-Gilmer, Anya Golder, Sudha Desai, Robert D. Morgan, Joanne Mcgrail, Stephen S. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chromosome instability (CIN) is a cancer hallmark that drives tumour heterogeneity, phenotypic adaptation, drug resistance and poor prognosis. High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), one of the most chromosomally unstable tumour types, has a 5-year survival rate of only ~30% – largely due to late diagnosis and rapid development of drug resistance e.g., via CIN-driven ABCB1 translocations. However, CIN is also a cell cycle vulnerability that can be exploited to specifically target tumour cells, illustrated by the success of PARP inhibitors to target homologous recombination deficiency (HRD). However, a lack of appropriate models with ongoing CIN has been a barrier to fully exploiting disease-specific CIN mechanisms. This barrier is now being overcome with the development of patient-derived cell cultures and organoids. In this review, we describe our progress building a Living Biobank of over 120 patient-derived ovarian cancer models (OCMs), predominantly from HGSOC. OCMs are highly purified tumour fractions with extensive proliferative potential that can be analysed at early passage. OCMs have diverse karyotypes, display intra- and inter-patient heterogeneity and mitotic abnormality rates far higher than established cell lines. OCMs encompass a broad-spectrum of HGSOC hallmarks, including a range of p53 alterations and BRCA1/2 mutations, and display drug resistance mechanisms seen in the clinic, e.g., ABCB1 translocations and BRCA2 reversion. OCMs are amenable to functional analysis, drug-sensitivity profiling, and multiomics, including single-cell next-generation sequencing, and thus represent a platform for delineating HGSOC-specific CIN mechanisms. In turn, our vision is that this understanding will inform the design of new therapeutic strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalChromosome Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2023


  • Chromosome instability
  • tumour heterogeneity
  • cancer genomics
  • ovarian cancer


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