BCAN Announces 2018 Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Awardee

Michael M. Shen, PhD

The aim of the Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Award is to support exceptionally novel and creative projects with great potential to produce breakthroughs in the management of bladder cancer. BCAN is pleased to announce The JPB Foundation 2018 Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Award was granted to Michael M. Shen, PhD for his project “Modeling bladder cancer metastasis using human patient-derived tumor organoids.”

Watch this video presentation of Dr. Michael Shen presenting the findings of his Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Award research at the 2021 Bladder Cancer Think Tank.

Dr. Shen is a Professor of Medical Sciences, Genetics and Development, at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York.

In recent work, Dr. Shen’s lab has used new techniques of three-dimensional cell culture to establish “organoids”, or mini-tissues in a dish, from primary bladder tumors obtained from human patients. These organoids can be grown indefinitely in the laboratory and display properties that strongly resemble those of the parental tumor from which they were established; thus, the organoids represent “avatars” of their corresponding bladder tumors. Notably, these human patient-derived organoids can be readily manipulated and studied in the laboratory, for example by using gene editing approaches to create mutations that are similar to those found in metastatic bladder cancer, followed by implantation of gene-edited organoids into mouse bladders to determine whether they will metastasize to other tissues.

Using this novel strategy, Dr. Shen will study bladder cancer metastasis by pursuing three aims:

1) Investigation of candidate genes that regulate the ability of tumor cells to invade and metastasize using gene editing of bladder tumor organoids;

2) Analysis of the ability of patient-derived organoids and corresponding gene-edited organoids to metastasize after implantation into the mouse bladder; and

3) Investigation of whether invasion and spread of tumor cells to other tissues is accomplished by single tumor cells or by clusters of cooperating tumor cells.

Overall, this project will examine central questions of bladder cancer biology using a highly innovative approach involving patient-derived tumor organoids, and may provide the basis for future treatment strategies for metastatic bladder cancer.

“We are excited to fund Dr. Shen’s highly significant and innovative research which will employ state-of-the-art models. This novel and creative project has great potential to improve our understanding and management of bladder cancer,” stated Andrea Maddox-Smith, Chief Executive Officer of BCAN.