Antitumor efficacy testing in rodents

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008 Nov 5;100(21):1500-10. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djn351. Epub 2008 Oct 28.


The preclinical research and human clinical trials necessary for developing anticancer therapeutics are costly. One contributor to these costs is preclinical rodent efficacy studies, which, in addition to the costs associated with conducting them, often guide the selection of agents for clinical development. If inappropriate or inaccurate recommendations are made on the basis of these preclinical studies, then additional costs are incurred. In this commentary, I discuss the issues associated with preclinical rodent efficacy studies. These include the identification of proper preclinical efficacy models, the selection of appropriate experimental endpoints, and the correct statistical evaluation of the resulting data. I also describe important experimental design considerations, such as selecting the drug vehicle, optimizing the therapeutic treatment plan, properly powering the experiment by defining appropriate numbers of replicates in each treatment arm, and proper randomization. Improved preclinical selection criteria can aid in reducing unnecessary human studies, thus reducing the overall costs of anticancer drug development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / economics*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biological Availability
  • Dacarbazine / analogs & derivatives
  • Dacarbazine / economics
  • Dacarbazine / pharmacology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor / economics*
  • Drugs, Investigational / economics*
  • Endpoint Determination*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / economics
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Research Design* / standards
  • Rodentia*
  • Sample Size
  • Tamoxifen / economics
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • Temozolomide
  • Topotecan / economics
  • Topotecan / pharmacology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • United States


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Tamoxifen
  • Dacarbazine
  • Topotecan
  • Temozolomide