Pancreatic cancer (PC) is anticipated to be second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by 2030. Surgery remains the only potentially curative treatment for patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the most common form of PC. Multiple recent preclinical studies focus on identifying effective treatments for PDAC, but the models available for these studies often fail to reproduce the heterogeneity of this tumor type. Data generated with such models are of unknown clinical relevance. Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models offer several advantages over human cell line-based in vitro and in vivo models and models of non-human origin. PDX models retain genetic characteristics of the human tumor specimens from which they were derived, have intact stromal components, and are more predictive of patient response than traditional models. This review briefly describes the advantages and disadvantages of 2D cultures, organoids and genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models of PDAC, and focuses on the applications, characteristics, advantages, limitations, and the future potential of PDX models for improving the management of PDAC.
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