Multi-omics and Organoid Screening Program

The Multi-omics and Organoid Screening Pilot Program based at Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) is a partnership with MPCCC’s Precision Oncology Program.

Importantly, the pilot program will extend molecular profiling of patient tumours beyond genomic characterisation to integrated multi-omic and functional analyses to enable provision of comprehensive personalised cancer profiles suitable for reporting to MPCCC molecular tumour boards (MTBs).

What is an organoid?

Organoids are cancer patient-derived ‘mini-tumours’ which are grown in the laboratory. They are derived from fresh tumour tissue taken at biopsy or at resection. Such tissue is often limited in amount, which impairs the ability fully to interrogate it molecular profile beyond ‘Standard of Care’ tests. To address this, tumour tissue can sometimes be grown in the laboratory before molecular profiling is performed, enabling a greater supply. The growth of pieces of whole tumour tissues in this way is called ‘organoid culture’. Once established, tumour organoids can be genetically profiled to ensure they recapitulate the profile of the original tumour. They may then be used to perform ‘multi-omic’ analyses, including studies of tumour proteomes and functional tests to evaluate predicted response of the tumour to drug therapies.

Why proteomics and other ‘omics’ approaches?

Although genomic profiling of fresh tumour tissue or of archived FFPE blocks can reveal genetic variants that predict response to drugs such as targeted drug therapies, inform likely outcomes of immunotherapy treatment, or determine eligibility clinical trials, the cancer genome alone does not provide all the information that might inform such clinical actionability. Another dimension to look at is the protein products of these genes (proteomics), which in fact are the molecules most directly responsible for cell growth and cancer progression. Indeed, proteins can be modified after they are produced from genes to make them better equipped to drive cancer growth, and such changes are not detected genetically.

The multi-omics profiling applied in this program will facilitate investigations into tumour:

  • Proteomics: the study of proteins produced by the tumour
  • Transcriptomics: the study of RNA transcripts produced by the tumour
  • Phospho-proteomics: a branch of proteomics that identifies, catalogues, and characterises proteins according to their phosphorylation status, which can reflect activity of proteins.
  • Immunopeptidome: The array of peptides presented to the immune system by HLA molecules.
    Digital Spatial profiling (DSP): a method to analyse the spatial expression of RNA and proteins from tumours that includes interrogating tumour-containing as well as juxtaposed non-tumour regions that can include immune cells. DSP is particularly useful for resolving spatial information to discover biomarkers for immuno-oncology.

By generating integrated, multi-omics, personalised cancer profiles, the program aims better to inform treatment options for cancer patients, and where possible to recommend personalised treatment plans.
To ensure this laboratory-based research will translate to the benefit of cancer patients, results of the multi-omics and organoid screening will be discussed by scientists and research-active cancer clinicians who attend MPCCC’s Molecular Tumour Board meetings.

To find out more about the MPCCC’s Precision Oncology Program, please contact Sarah Mwaba on

For further information on the Multi-omics and Organoid Screening Pilot Program, please contact Roger Daly on