Bladder cancer: ready to get killed by therapy?

Ex vivo drug testing for advanced bladder cancer to predict treatment efficacy: EVITA.

Erasmus MC and VitroScan leverage their expertise and technology to develop accurate testing using tumors derived from individual patients with bladder cancer. The project will deliver tools to assess the sensitivity of the patient’s tumor to chemotherapy before the therapy has actually started. The collaboration integrates leading scientific expertise and dedication to develop the tools for approved use in the clinic. 

Bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in the Netherlands and it is potentially lethal with a mortality rate of 25 patients/week. Bladder cancer is sensitive to chemotherapy and patients receive chemotherapy before their bladder is surgically removed or to reduce the growth of metastases. However, the risk that bladder cancer is not sensitive to chemotherapy is >50%. As a result, many patients experience no benefit while they are being exposed to side-effects. Within this project, patient-specific tumor models are being developed to evaluate a patient’s tumor sensitivity to chemotherapy and thereby helping to guide treatment decisions. 

To test drug sensitivity patterns of bladder cancer, a fast and accurate tumor testing platform will be established: the VitroScan test. The aim is to prove that the outcome of the VitroScan test correlates with the response to chemotherapy that has been observed in patients receiving chemotherapy. In parallel, the validated tumor testing tools will make further research possible to identify new drugs to expand the number of effective treatment options for bladder cancer patients.  

The deliverables of this project are the VitroScan test for bladder cancer and a large repository of miniature bladder tumors for scientific research and drug discovery purposes. These so-called drug testing tools will help to improve treatment decision-making, reduce the costs of ineffective treatments and lower the risk of unnecessary exposure to side-effects of patients suffering from bladder cancer.  

The vast majority of bladder cancer patients is treated with chemotherapy without prior knowledge of the tumour’s sensitivity to the administered drug. The EVITA project aims to deliver patient-specific customized tools to provide personalized treatment for bladder cancer patients.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
3 - 7
Time period
36 months