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J Clin Oncol. 2011 Jun 1;29(16):2273-81. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.30.8304. Epub 2011 Jan 24.

How genetically engineered mouse tumor models provide insights into human cancers.

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Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.


Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) of human cancer were first created nearly 30 years ago. These early transgenic models demonstrated that mouse cells could be transformed in vivo by expression of an oncogene. A new field emerged, dedicated to generating and using mouse models of human cancer to address a wide variety of questions in cancer biology. The aim of this review is to highlight the contributions of mouse models to the diagnosis and treatment of human cancers. Because of the breadth of the topic, we have selected representative examples of how GEMMs are clinically relevant rather than provided an exhaustive list of experiments. Today, as detailed here, sophisticated mouse models are being created to study many aspects of cancer biology, including but not limited to mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to drug treatment, oncogene cooperation, early detection, and metastasis. Alternatives to GEMMs, such as chemically induced or spontaneous tumor models, are not discussed in this review.

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