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The ROS1 Cancer Model Project

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What is a Cancer Model?

What Is a Cancer Model?

Cancer models allow us to study cancer outside the human body. One type consists of immortalized human cancer cells in a lab dish—like the HeLa cells in “Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks“—called cell lines.  Another consists of human cancer cells growing under the skin of a mouse–called a patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse.

To make these types of models, researchers need live cancer cells donated by patients. 

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How Do Cancer Models Help Researchers?

"We have found these models to be a game changer for our work."
-- Monika Davare, PhD, Oregon Health Sciences University

How Models Help
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Researchers use cancer models in several ways:

  • to explore cancer biology

  • to study drug resistance

  • to develop new biomarker and cancer detection methods

  • to find new treatment options


In early 2017, only a few ROS1+ cancer cell lines and one ROS1+ cancer PDX mouse model existed. This was a problem:  none of the models were from tumors that had developed resistance to crizotinib or other ROS1 TKIs.  Researchers didn't have the materials they needed to explore unique ROS1+ cancer biology and understand the acquired resistance mechanisms that caused our ROS1 TKIs to become less effective.  

Another problem with having only a few models of ROS1+ cancer:  there are many forms of ROS1+ cancer.  The ROS1 gene can fuse with over 20 other genes to create a ROS1+ protein, and ROS1+ cancer is found in over 12 different cancers such as melanoma, breast cancer, angiosarcoma, cholangiocarcinoma, and others. Without models of these different types of cancer, we have no way of knowing whether the TKIs developed using a single CD-74 ROS1 PDX mouse model would work on the other types of ROS1+ cancer.


The ROS1 Cancer Model Project

The ROS1 Cancer Model Project enables people who have ROS1+ cancer to donate live cancer cells to make ROS1 cancer models.


Here’s how it works. ROS1+ patients who have an upcoming medically necessary biopsy, surgery, or thoracentesis arrange in advance to donate their excess fresh tumor tissue and pleural fluid to one of our partner organizations. These organizations use the donated specimens to create ROS1 cancer models. The models are analyzed, then shared freely with academic ROS1 researchers to accelerate research into our disease.  

Our tissue and pleural fluid donations and funding for analysis have helped to create NINE ROS1 cell lines, which has more than doubled the number of ROS1 cell lines available for research. 

The ROS1 cell lines created by this project are shared freely (for the cost of shipping) with academic researchers to accelerate research.  Some of the institutions that have received our cell lines are:

  • University of California San Francisco (USA)

  • Huntsman Cancer Institute (USA)

  • National Institutes of Health (USA)

  • Moffitt Cancer Center (USA)

  • Ignyta (USA) -- now part of Genentech Roche 

  • Boundless Bio (USA)

  • McGill University (Canada)

  • Foundation Medicine (USA)

  • ThermoFisher (USA)

  • Hanzehogeschool Groningen (Netherlands)

  • Universiteit Antwerpen (Belgium)

Some of the research involving the ROS1+ cancer cell lines we helped to create has been published.  You can find links to the published articles on our publications page.

The initial project was developed as a partnership involving The ROS1ders, The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (now the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer), Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI), the Doebele lab at the University of Colorado, Vanderbilt University, and Champions Oncology.

The PDX Mouse Model project was not able to create models successfully and has since been terminated. The cell line project is continuing.


How Can I Get Involved?

Get Involved
ROS1+ Cancer Patients

 If a medically necessary biopsy, pleural fluid draining, or cancer surgery might be in your future think, prepare now so you can donate your excess fresh tumor tissue or fluid. Go to to learn more and join their study.  


ROS1 Clinicians

If you perform medically necessary biopsies, pleural fluid draining, or cancer surgery, learn about now so you'll be able to help your ROS1+ cancer patients donate excess fresh cancer specimens for research.  (Pattern accepts patient specimens for some other cancers and rare diseases, too).

ROS1+ Cancer  Researchers

If you are interested in acquiring ROS1+ cancer cell lines created in partnership with the ROS1 Cancer Model Project, please contact us.

ROS1+ Cancer Supporters

Please donate to support The ROS1ders research initiatives.

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