Pancreas Cancer Precision Treatment Using Avatar Mice from a Bioinformatics Perspective

Public Health Genomics. 2017;20(2):81-91. doi: 10.1159/000479812. Epub 2017 Sep 1.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death among solid malignancies. Unfortunately, PDAC lethality has not substantially decreased over the past 20 years. This aggressiveness is related to the genomic complexity and heterogeneity of PDAC, but also to the absence of an effective screening for the detection of early-stage tumors and a lack of efficient therapeutic options. Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve the arsenal of anti-PDAC drugs for an effective treatment of these patients. Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse models represent a promising strategy to personalize PDAC treatment, offering a bench testing of candidate treatments and helping to select empirical treatments in PDAC patients with no therapeutic targets. Moreover, bioinformatics-based approaches have the potential to offer systematic insights into PDAC etiology predicting putatively actionable tumor-specific genomic alterations, identifying novel biomarkers and generating disease-associated gene expression signatures. This review focuses on recent efforts to individualize PDAC treatments using PDX models. Additionally, we discuss the current understanding of the PDAC genomic landscape and the putative druggable targets derived from mutational studies. PDAC molecular subclassifications and gene expression profiling studies are reviewed as well. Finally, latest bioinformatics methodologies based on somatic variant detection and prioritization, in silico drug response prediction, and drug repositioning to improve the treatment of advanced PDAC tumors are also covered.

Keywords: Bioinformatics; Drug repositioning; Pancreatic cancer; Personalized medicine; Xenografts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / genetics
  • Computational Biology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Precision Medicine / methods*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays*


  • Antineoplastic Agents

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma