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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common form of pancreatic cancer, a disease with dismal overall survival. Advances in treatment are hindered by a lack of preclinical models. Here, we show how a personalized organotypic "avatar" created from resected tissue allows spatial and temporal reporting on a complete in situ tumor microenvironment and mirrors clinical responses. Our perfusion culture method extends tumor slice viability, maintaining stable tumor content, metabolism, stromal composition, and immune cell populations for 12 days. Using multiplexed immunofluorescence and spatial transcriptomics, we identify immune neighborhoods and potential for immunotherapy. We used avatars to assess the impact of a preclinically validated metabolic therapy and show recovery of stromal and immune phenotypes and tumor redifferentiation. To determine clinical relevance, we monitored avatar response to gemcitabine treatment and identify a patient avatar-predictable response from clinical follow-up. Thus, avatars provide valuable information for syngeneic testing of therapeutics and a truly personalized therapeutic assessment platform for patients.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Adv

Publication Date





Humans, Precision Medicine, Pancreatic Neoplasms, Tumor Microenvironment, Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal, Gemcitabine, Deoxycytidine, Cell Line, Tumor, Immunotherapy, Animals, Avatar