Priceless GEMMs: genetically engineered mouse models for colorectal cancer drug development.
To establish effective drug development for colorectal cancer (CRC), preclinical models that are robust surrogates for human disease are crucial. Mouse models are an attractive platform because of their relatively low cost, short life span, and ease of use. There are two main categories of mouse CRC models: xenografts derived from implantation of CRC cells or tumors in immunodeficient mice; and genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) derived from modification of human cancer predisposition genes, resulting in spontaneous tumor formation. Here, we review xenografts and GEMMs and focus on their potential application in translational research. Furthermore, we describe newer GEMMs for sporadic CRC that are particularly suitable for drug testing. Finally, we discuss recent advances in small-animal imaging, such as optical colonoscopy, which allow in vivo assessment of tumors. With the increasing sophistication of GEMMs, our preclinical armamentarium provides new hope for the ongoing war against CRC.
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