Contributing to the realization of personalized cancer care by measuring efficacy of anticancer drugs using “patient avatar models” created with invivoid™ 3D cell culture technology

Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research (JFCR) and Toppan Inc. (Toppan) established a laboratory for joint research on cancer in 2019 within JFCR’s Cancer Chemotherapy Center and have been conducting research on evaluation of anticancer drugs using invivoid™ 3D cell culture technology.1

In collaboration with the Graduate School of Engineering at Osaka University (Osaka University), they will now start a clinical research project to reduce the physical and economic risks caused by unnecessary administration of anticancer drugs. This will be done by using invivoid™ to create a large number of cancer avatars of patients, exposing the cancer avatars to multiple anticancer drugs, and evaluating the efficacy of the drugs. Also, in preparation for the start of clinical research, the contract for the establishment of a joint laboratory between JFCR and Toppan has been extended until March 2026. The joint research agreement between the three parties, including Osaka University, has also been extended until the same date.

Anticancer Drugs


As the diagnosis and treatment of cancer continues to advance, various cancers and cancer-related genes are being elucidated and identified in the field of basic research. At the same time, the “comprehensive genome profile test”2 is covered by health insurance in Japan as a treatment selection test for anticancer drugs, but only a small percentage (less than 10%) of patients can receive medication that matches their genetic mutation.

With this in mind, JFCR and Toppan are moving forward with joint research on an anticancer drug evaluation tool that utilizes invivoid™. In 2019, they conducted a comparative verification between cancer cells produced using invivoid™ and a mouse xenograft model, in which patient-derived cancer cells, established from samples (residual samples of surgically removed tumors) with patients’ consent, are transplanted into mice. A total of 58 drugs were evaluated on cells derived from 20 cases of cancer, and the agreement rate between invivoid™ and mouse models was 87.5%, with a positive predictive value of 88.9%, negative predictive value of 86.4%, sensitivity of 91.4%, and specificity of 82.6%, which are better results than conventional 2D and 3D cell culture in every accuracy index. The results were presented at the American Cancer Society meeting in Florida in April 2023 (April 14-19).

Comparison of invivoid™ and PDX mouse
Comparison of invivoid™ and PDX mouse

Based on these results, JFCR, Toppan, and Osaka University, which is conducting basic research on 3D cell culture technology in collaboration with Toppan, will begin clinical research.


・ JFCR: Planning and conducting a clinical study to investigate drug sensitivity in patients with colorectal cancer
・ Osaka University: Improvement of invivoid™ in cancer patient tissue culture from a tissue engineering perspective
・ Toppan: Using invivoid™to create three-dimensional tissue that mimics the cancer microenvironment of colorectal cancer patients

Future goals

JFCR, Toppan and Osaka University aim to start a clinical study to determine the efficacy of anticancer drugs using invivoid™ by September 2023. Through this clinical research, they also aim for early clinical introduction, including advanced medical treatment, toward the realization of personalized cancer care.

About invivoid™

invivoid™ is a 3D cell culture technology using proprietary biomaterials jointly developed by Toppan and Professor Michiya Matsusaki of the Graduate School of Engineering at Osaka University. In addition to cancer models, it can be used to create liver models, skin models, mini breast models, and mini organs, such as cultured meat models.

About JFCR

JFCR aims to gain recognition as a world-class facility for cancer research and diagnosis/treatment by contributing to the diagnosis/treatment/prevention of cancer and pursuing research to elucidate the main body of cancer, based on the basic philosophy of “improving the well-being of people everywhere by achieving better cancer control.” To achieve this, they are working to provide medical care that satisfies patients by promoting so-called “translational research,” which is research that drives communication in both basic and clinical fields based on clinical application.

About the Graduate School of Engineering at Osaka University


About Toppan

Toppan is advancing research and development in the field of “Healthcare & Life Sciences,” one of its priority new growth fields, at the Toppan Technical Research Institute. As part of this effort, Toppan established Joint Research Courses in Advanced Cell Regulation Chemistry (From TOPPAN) at Osaka University’s Graduate School of Engineering in 2017. Toppan also developed invivoid™, a 3D cell culture technology utilizing proprietary biomaterials, in collaboration with Osaka University’s Professor Michiya Matsusaki. Various studies are underway for practical application in society.

1. invivoid™, which is used in this clinical research, is not a commercially available product or service at this time.

2. Comprehensive genome profile test: A test designed to provide optimal cancer drug therapy by comprehensively analyzing a large number of genes and obtaining information on genetic abnormalities that will assist in formulating a treatment plan. Available only at certain hospitals specialized in cancer genome medicine.

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