Urothelial cancer organoids: a tool for bladder cancer research

R. P. Meijer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Background: Bladder cancer ranks among the top ten most common tumor types worldwide and represents a growing healthcare problem, accounting for a large part of total healthcare costs. Chemotherapy is effective in a subset of patients, while causing severe side effects. Tumor pathogenesis and drug resistance mechanisms are largely unknown. Precision medicine is failing in bladder cancer, as bladder tumors are genetically and molecularly very heterogeneous. Currently, therapeutic decision-making depends on assessing a single fragment of surgically acquired tumor tissue. Objective: New preclinical model systems for bladder cancer are indispensable for developing therapeutic strategies tailored to individual patient and tumor characteristics. Organoids are small 3D tissue cultures that simulate small-size organs “in a dish” and tumoroids are a special type of cancer organoid (i.e., malignant tissue). Materials and methods: Since 2016, we have collaborated with the renowned Hubrecht Institute to provide proof of concept of tissue-based bladder tumoroids mimicking parental tumors. We have developed a living biobank containing bladder organoids and tumoroids grown from over 50 patient samples, which reflect crucial aspects of bladder cancer pathogenesis. Results: Histological and immunofluorescence analysis indicated that the heterogeneity and subclassification of tumoroids mimicked those of corresponding parental tumor samples. Thus, urothelial tumoroids mimic crucial aspects of bladder cancer pathogenesis. Conclusion: Research with urothelial tumoroids will open up new avenues for bladder cancer pathogenesis and drug-resistance research as well as for precision medicine approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
Issue numberSUPPL 2
Early online date8 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Drug resistance
  • Organoids
  • Precision medicine
  • Urothelial cancer


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