Human Cancer Models Initiative

The Human Cancer Models Initiative (HCMI) brings together world experts who will build on scientific advances from the past decade to make approximately 1,000 new cancer models available as a transformative resource for researchers.

Project objectives

The cancer models will closely mirror the cellular complexity and architecture of human tumours, and are being developed using new cell culture techniques, such as those that enable efficient production of conditionally reprogrammed cells and organoids. They will be generated using tumour tissue from patients with a variety of cancer types, including rare and paediatric cancers which are often underrepresented or absent from existing cell line collections.

The originating tumour and the derived models will be sequenced, and this information, as well as patient-pertinent clinical data, will be available to researchers.

The HCMI will serve as a transformative resource that will empower researchers to study many aspects of cancer, including tumour heterogeneity, disease progression, mechanisms of drug resistance, and the development of precision medicine treatments.

The HCMI is a partnership between CRUK and:

Testing cancer drugs on mini tumours


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Our role

We will work with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and across a number of clinical sites, to generate organoids with an initial focus on colorectal, pancreatic and oesophageal models. Patients with pancreatic and oesophageal cancer have poor survival rates and few treatment options compared to other types of cancer and as such these are areas of strategic priority for CRUK.

We’ll be working with our international partners to make all models available to researchers.

Contact us

For more information on this partnership, please contact the Precision Medicine Team.

Balls of cells with their own ‘passport’

Find out more about how the Human Cancer Models Initiative will speed up drug testing on our Science Blog.