PDX Models: Definition, Importance, and Applications

  • Billy Cobb
  • Dec 31, 2023
PDX Models: Definition, Importance, and Applications

Understanding PDX Models: An Overview

Advancements in cancer research have led to the development of various preclinical models that help scientists explore the mechanisms of the disease and test new treatments. Patient-Derived Xenografts (PDX) models, also known as Tumorgrafts or Xenografts, are one such model that is widely used in cancer research today.

PDX models involve the transplantation of human tumor tissue into immune-deficient mice. Once engrafted, the tumor cells continue to grow and develop in the animal host, mirroring the biological features and characteristics of the original tumor. These preclinical models are unique as they preserve the molecular and genetic characteristics of the patient’s tumor, including heterogeneity, making them effective tools for translational research.

Researchers can use these models to not only study tumor biology but also to test the efficacy of new drugs and treatments. Since PDX models closely mimic the human tumor and microenvironment, they provide researchers with a reliable platform to explore tumor biology, drug development, and personalized therapy.

Types of PDX Models

PDX models can be generated from different types of tumors, including solid tumor and hematological malignancies. Depending on the application and research question, there are three main types of PDX models in use:

Primary PDX models:

These are PDX models that involve transplanting the tumor tissue into an immunodeficient mouse. The tumor tissues are harvested directly from the patient, and the model conserves the biological characteristics of the original tumor.

Secondary or metastatic PDX models:

Metastatic tumors that have spread from their primary location to other organs can be studied using this PDX model. Researchers can study how metastasis affects the tumor and the progression of cancer.

PDX models for drug efficacy:

This category of PDX models is used to test therapies and drugs. The model is used to evaluate the efficacy of drugs and treatments before they are tested in patients. Researchers can also use these models to predict therapeutic responses of patients, which may lead to personalized medicine.

Benefits of PDX Models

The use of PDX models has many benefits. Among the benefits are:

PDX models are effective for personalized medicine:

Unlike traditional cancer models, PDX models can preserve the heterogeneity of tumors, which is crucial when developing personalized medicine.

PDX models are excellent tools for translational and preclinical research:

PDX models can better simulate tumor growth and response to drugs in humans, making them more reliable than traditional cell line models. As a result, they are more predictive of clinical outcomes, so they can help identify potential cancer treatment options in a preclinical setting.

Improved development of drug resistance:

PDX models allow researchers to study the development of drug resistance, a significant challenge in cancer treatment. Studying drug resistance in patient-derived animal models could lead to the development of new drugs or novel therapeutic approaches


PDX models are an invaluable tool for cancer research, with far-reaching implications for personalized medicine and oncology. They can provide insights into the mechanisms of cancer, help in drug discovery, and facilitate the development of personalized treatment options. In conclusion, the preservation of patient-derived tissues and genetic attributes in PDX models provides researchers with an accurate and reliable platform for advancing cancer research.

How Are PDX Models Created?

PDX models, also known as patient-derived xenograft models, are a type of preclinical model used in cancer research to study the effectiveness of various cancer therapies. Creating PDX models is a complex process that involves several steps.

The first step in creating a PDX model is obtaining a patient’s tumor tissue. This is typically done through a biopsy or surgical procedure. Once the tumor tissue has been obtained, it is prepared for implantation into the mouse models.

Before implantation, the immune system of the mice is suppressed so that their bodies won’t reject the human tumor tissue. This is usually done by injecting the mice with drugs that suppress their immune systems. Once the immune system of the mice has been suppressed, the tumor tissues are implanted into the mice.

After the tumor tissue has been implanted, the mice are observed to ensure that the tumor grows and develops. Once the tumor has grown to a sufficient size, it is harvested and used to create a PDX model.

Creating PDX models can be a time-consuming process and requires a team of skilled researchers and clinicians. However, PDX models have revolutionized cancer research, allowing researchers to better understand the complexities of cancer and develop more effective treatments.

What Are the Advantages of PDX Models?

PDX models, or patient-derived xenograft models, have been developed as a reliable and clinically-relevant platform for the preclinical evaluation of cancer treatment options. By implanting human tumor samples directly into immunodeficient mice, the models closely recapitulate the molecular and genetic characteristics of human tumors, providing researchers with an effective in vivo tool to study tumor biology and drug response. Here are some of the key advantages of PDX models:

1. A More Accurate Representation of the Patient’s Tumor

Unlike traditional human cancer cell lines, PDX models maintain the genetic and molecular features of the patient’s tumor, including tumor heterogeneity and the tumor microenvironment. This makes PDX models more clinically relevant and accurate than other experimental models, as they better reflect the diversity of cancer seen in patients. By using PDX models, researchers can study tumor biology, progression, and treatment response in a more realistic setting, helping to accelerate drug development and improve clinical outcomes for patients.

2. Predicting Clinical Efficacy of Cancer Drugs

PDX models have emerged as powerful tools to evaluate the efficacy of novel cancer therapeutics, enabling researchers to test new drugs for their anti-tumor activity. These models also offer the potential to predict the clinical response of individual patients to specific drug therapies in a more personalized approach to cancer treatment. By testing multiple drugs and drug combinations in PDX models, researchers can identify novel therapeutic targets and assess drug resistance mechanisms, leading to the development of more effective treatments with fewer side effects.

3. Reduced Use of Animal Testing

Although PDX models involve the use of mice, reducing the number of animals needed in preclinical cancer research is an advantage. Because PDX models can accurately predict which drugs are most likely to succeed in clinical trials, fewer animal models and higher success rates can reduce the total number of animals needed to test new treatments. This not only saves precious animal lives but also helps reduce the cost and time of drug development.

In conclusion, PDX models have become an increasingly popular tool for preclinical cancer research, offering many advantages over traditional experimental models. By more accurately reflecting the clinical characteristics of individual patient tumors, PDX models can lead to more personalized cancer therapies and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

How Are PDX Models Being Used Today?

PDX models, also known as patient-derived xenograft models, are essentially preclinical models of cancer that are growing in popularity. These models are generated by transplanting tumor tissue from a patient into an immunodeficient mouse model, and as such, are considered a more accurate representation of human cancer than traditional cell line models. Here’s a look at three interesting ways in which PDX models are being used today:

Personalized Cancer Treatment Plans

One of the most important ways in which PDX models are being used today is in the development of personalized cancer treatment plans. By using a patient’s own tumor tissue to generate a PDX model, doctors can create an in vitro model of the patient’s cancer that can then be used to test a range of different drug therapies. This approach is particularly useful for identifying drugs that are likely to be effective against the patient’s specific type of cancer, while minimizing the risk of side effects. In many cases, PDX models are being used to refine treatment plans that have not been effective using other approaches.

Testing New Drug Therapies

Another important application of PDX models is in the development of new cancer therapies. By transplanting tumor tissue from multiple patients into a single mouse model, researchers can create a more diverse and realistic model of human cancer. This in turn makes it easier to identify drugs that are effective against a broad range of cancer types, rather than just a specific subtype. What’s more, PDX models can be used to test drugs under a range of different conditions, such as at various stages of tumor growth, as well as in combination with other therapies.

Exploring the Genetic Underpinnings of Cancer

Finally, PDX models are becoming an increasingly useful tool for researchers who are interested in understanding the underlying genetic mechanisms of cancer. By manipulating the genes within a PDX model, researchers can explore the role of specific genes in tumor progression, as well as the factors that contribute to drug resistance. This research is critical for developing more effective cancer therapies that can target specific molecular pathways that are broken in cancer cells.

Overall, PDX models are proving to be a valuable tool for cancer researchers and clinicians. While these models are still relatively new, they are already contributing to significant advances in our understanding of cancer biology and treatment.

Originally posted 2023-06-27 05:39:17.

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