School of Medical Sciences


Growth of tumour cells from cancer patients

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With the expert collaboration of cancer surgeons and the permission of cancer patients, we have obtained samples from a large variety of cancer tissue, taken during standard surgery. The main aim of this project is to determine whether cells cultured directly from these samples could help predict the patient’s outcome. In the course of this work, we developed a method of measuring how fast cells grew in the cultures and, unexpectedly, we found that the rate of cell growth was related to the survival of the cancer patient. 

The graph shows the result for brain cancer and we are investigating several other cancer types. We are also using these cultures to test their responses to drugs, such as temozolomide (used for brain cancer) and new drugs developed in the ACSRC.

Human cell lines

Another spin-off from this project is that we have been able to develop cell lines from many of the samples received and we now have a collection of nearly 200 melanoma and brain cancer cell lines, one of the world’s largest. These lines are being used not only for new drug development but also to develop a new understanding of tumour growth, invasion and progression. We have also developed mathematical models to describe the growth of both cell lines and, by implication, human tumours before and after treatment with anticancer therapies.

Selected recent publications


Baguley BC, Finlay GJ. Stem cell niche versus cancer stem cell niche – differences and similarities. In: Stem Cell Biology in Health and Disease. Eds.T Dittmar, KS Zänker. ISBN 978-90-481-3041-2. Springer Netherlands. 2009; pp223-233.

Basse B, Joseph WR, Marshall ES, Baguley BC. Analysis of radiation-induced changes to human melanoma cultures using a mathematical model. Cell Proliferation 2009; 43(2), 139-46. PMID: 20447059

Daukste L, Basse B, Baguley BC, Wall DJN. Using a stem cell and progeny model to illustrate the relationship between cell cycle times of in vivo human tumour cell tissue populations, in vitro primary cultures and the cell lines derived from them. J Theor Biol 2009; 260(4), 563-71. PMID: 19573536

Furneaux CE, Marshall ES, Yeoh K, Monteith SJ, Mews PJ, Sansur CA, Oskouian RJ, Sharples KJ, Baguley BC. Cell cycle times of short-term cultures of brain cancers as predictors of survival. Br J Cancer 2008; 99: 1678-1683. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604716

Daukste L, Basse B, Baguley BC, Wall DJN. Using a stem cell and progeny model to illustrate the relationship between cell cycle times of in vivo human tumour cell tissue populations, in vitro primary cultures and the cell lines derived from them. J Theor Biol 2009; 260:563-571. PMID: 19573536