The Human Cancer Model Initiative (HCMI) is an international consortium that is generating novel human tumor-derived culture models with associated genomic and clinical data. The HCMI consortium includes the US-National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, Cancer Research UK, foundation Hubrecht Organoid Technology, and Wellcome Sanger Institute. The goal of HCMI is to create up to one thousand cancer models from patient tumors. To address the issue of tumor complexity, the HCMI will use next-generation culture techniques to develop models whose molecular characterization is more similar to that of the parent tumor. 

In the future, the cancer models may be utilized, for example, to define essential cancer pathways, determine mechanisms of drug resistance, and assess response to small molecules. In addition, the models can be used to study the biology of the cell types of origin. The HCMI-developed models and related data will be available to the world-wide research community. 

  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has funded Cancer Model Development Centers (CMDCs) to generate fully credentialed cancer models originating from patient tissues. 
  • Cancer Research UK and Wellcome Sanger Institute are co-funding generation and molecular characterization of cancer organoids for the United Kingdom’s arm of the HCMI.
  • The foundation Hubrecht Organoid Technology, a not-for-profit organization founded by the Hubrecht Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and University Medical Center Utrecht, is generating and sequencing cancer organoid models for the Netherlands’ contribution to the HCMI.

The collaborative nature of HCMI will allow for rapid learning and protocol sharing. When possible, procedures as well as resulting molecular and clinical data will be standardized. The CMDCs are a part of the Precision Medicine Initiative in Oncology and a program in NCI's Cancer Moonshot. The resulting novel models will serve as valuable tools for cancer research as in the future, they may contribute to the drug development, be used as diagnostic markers, and inform individualized patient treatments.

Last updated: October 29, 2018